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Carbon stock variability in salt marsh ecosystems
Prospero, A. (2021). Carbon stock variability in salt marsh ecosystems. MSc Thesis. NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Yerseke. 24 pp.

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  • Prospero, A.

    Tidal marshes are considered as important ecosystems because they provide numerous essential ecosystem services. Tidal marshes also sequester and store a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere and the oceans, therefore playing an essential role in mitigating climate change. Studies on salt marsh ecosystems have increased in recent years, but several facets still need to be better understood to improve the accuracy to assess their contribution to global carbon stock. The aim of this study was to analyse the currently available peer-review literature on salt marsh carbon stock in order to assess the factors influencing carbon sequestration and storage locally (i.e. at the ecosystems level), as well as on a regional scale (i.e. along estuaries). Salt marshes are highly complex and dynamic systems, and the carbon stock highly varies among locations and marsh settings. Variations in carbon stock are driven by the vegetation structure, as well as by several environmental and geomorphological conditions. These factors control biomass production, the fluxes of autochthonous and allochthonous matter, and the permanence of carbon within sediments. Estuaries can be characterized by a wide variety of gradients; thus, carbon stock is highly heterogeneous along the estuarine setting. However, a scarce amount of research is available about estuarine marshes. The assessment of the global contribution of salt marshes to global carbon stock is made difficult by the scarce knowledge on their global extent, as well as the lack of patterns among ecosystems. The pressure of future climatic changes and rising sea level urge the need for a deeper understanding of those highly valuable ecosystems.

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