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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global radiative forcing. A mechanistic understanding of how wetland CH4 cycling will respond to global warming is crucial for improving prognostic models. We present results from the first four years of a novel whole-ecosystem warming experiment in a coastal wetland, showing that warming increases CH4 emissions and identifying four potential mechanisms that can be added to future modeling efforts.
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-376
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-376

  25 Nov 2020

25 Nov 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Biogeochemical and plant trait mechanisms drive enhanced methane emissions in response to whole-ecosystem warming

Genevieve L. Noyce and J. Patrick Megonigal Genevieve L. Noyce and J. Patrick Megonigal
  • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD

Abstract. Climate warming perturbs ecosystem carbon (C) cycling, causing both positive and negative feedbacks on greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, we began a tidal marsh field experiment in two vegetation communities to investigate the mechanisms by which whole-ecosystem warming alters C gain, via plant-driven sequestration in soils, and C loss, primarily via methane (CH4) emissions. Here, we report the results from the first four years. As expected, warming of 5.1 °C more than doubled CH4 emissions in both plant communities. We propose this was caused by a combination of four mechanisms: (i) a decrease in the proportion of CH4 consumed by CH4 oxidation, (ii) more C substrates available for methanogenesis, (iii) reduced competition between methanogens and sulfate reducing bacteria, and (iv) indirect effects of plant traits. Plots dominated by Spartina patens consistently emitted more CH4 than plots dominated by Schoenoplectus americanus, indicating key differences in the roles these common wetland plants play in affecting anerobic soil biogeochemistry and suggesting that plant composition can modulate coastal wetland responses to climate change.

Genevieve L. Noyce and J. Patrick Megonigal

 
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Genevieve L. Noyce and J. Patrick Megonigal

Genevieve L. Noyce and J. Patrick Megonigal

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Short summary
Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global radiative forcing. A mechanistic understanding of how wetland CH4 cycling will respond to global warming is crucial for improving prognostic models. We present results from the first four years of a novel whole-ecosystem warming experiment in a coastal wetland, showing that warming increases CH4 emissions and identifying four potential mechanisms that can be added to future modeling efforts.
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