Carbon accumulation rates are highest at young and expanding salt marsh edges

An objective of salt marsh conservation, restoration, and creation is to reduce global carbon dioxide levels and offset emissions. This strategy hinges on measurements of salt marsh carbon accumulation rates, which vary widely creating uncertainty in monetizing carbon credits. Here, we show the 14–323 g C m−2 yr−1 range of carbon accumulation rates, derived from cores collected at seven sites in North Carolina U.S.A., results from the landward or basinward trajectory of salt marsh colonization and the intertidal space available for accretion. Rates increase with accelerating sea-level rise and are highest at young and expanding marsh edges. The highest carbon densities are near the upland, highlighting the importance of this area for building a rich stock of carbon that would be prevented by upland development. Explaining variability in carbon accumulation rates clarifies appraisal of salt marsh restoration projects and landscape conversion, in terms of mitigating green-house gas emissions.
© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Communications Earth & Environment, 2022, available online at: . Keywords: carbon cycle; climate-change mitigation; environmental impact.
Miller, C.B., Rodriguez, A.B., Bost, M.C. et al. Carbon accumulation rates are highest at young and expanding salt marsh edges. Commun Earth Environ 3, 173 (2022).