Date of Graduation

Spring 5-13-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Gretchen C. Coffman, Ph.D.


Wetlands are dynamic systems that provide support to vital environmental functions and services. Wetlands take part in the global carbon cycle by holding organic carbon in biomass, soils and sediments. In recent years, the wetland carbon sequestration capacity has been researched worldwide due to the increase of the concentrations of greenhouse gasses implicated in global warming and climate change. Although coastal wetlands release the greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, these ecosystems maintain high performance in offsetting significant amounts of atmospheric carbon. This paper investigated the carbon sequestration capacity of coastal wetland ecosystems summarizing the environmental conditions and factors associated with carbon fixation, production and storage in tidal salt marshes and mangrove ecosystems. The results showed that both coastal wetland ecosystems types are a significant carbon pools compared to other terrestrial ecosystems. Global estimations indicated that carbon storage in coastal wetlands ranges from 0.4 to 8.9 Pg C. Tidal salt marshes and mangroves store a large amount of carbon in their soils, which was estimated in the range of 0.02 to 4.9 Pg C. Moreover, the estimates of carbon storage in mangrove biomass ranged between 1.22 to 4.98 Pg C, and from 0.007 to 0.02 Pg C in tidal marsh biomass. Additionally, annual carbon storage was estimated to range from 4.6 to 8.7 Tg C yr-1 for tidal salt marshes, and to 52 Tg C yr-1 for mangrove ecosystems. Environmental and hydrologic conditions including salinity gradients and tidal regimes play a crucial role in the biogeochemistry cycling of carbon, methane and nitrous oxide in coastal wetlands. My review of methane and nitrous oxide production and emission indicated that tidal salt marshes and mangrove ecosystems are not a substantial source of these greenhouse gases. It is recommended that the protection and restoration of coastal salt marshes and mangroves should help to maintain their potential as natural carbon reservoirs and avoid becoming sources of atmospheric carbon. Wetland restoration efforts need of adequate policies, available funds, and social commitments. Financial aid obtained from the trading of wetland carbon credits could contribute to improve restoration activities and research projects in these ecosystems.


Master's project.

Literature review of carbon sequestration in coastal wetlands