Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-27
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-27

  17 Feb 2021

17 Feb 2021

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

Blue Carbon Stocks and Exchanges Along the Pacific West Coast

Melissa A. Ward1,2, Tessa M. Hill1, Chelsey Souza1, Tessa Filipczyk1, Aurora M. Ricart1,3, Sarah Merolla1, Lena R. Capece1, Brady C. O’Donnell1, Kristen Elsmore1, Walter C. Oechel2, and Kathryn M. Beheshti4 Melissa A. Ward et al.
  • 1Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis, 95616, USA
  • 2San Diego State University, 92182, USA
  • 3Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, 04544, USA
  • 4University of California, Santa Cruz, 95064, USA

Abstract. Salt marshes and seagrass meadows can sequester and store high quantities of organic carbon (OC) in their sediments relative to other marine and terrestrial habitats. Assessing carbon stocks, carbon sources, and the transfer of carbon between habitats within coastal seascapes are each integral in identifying the role of blue carbon habitats in coastal carbon cycling. Here, we quantified carbon stocks, sources, and exchanges in seagrass meadows, salt marshes, and unvegetated sediments in six bays along the Pacific coast of California. The salt marshes studied here contained approximately twice as much OC as did seagrass meadows, 23.51 ± 1.77 kg OC m−3 compared to 11.01 ± 1.18 kg OC m−3, respectively. Both seagrass and salt marsh sediment carbon stocks were higher than previous estimates from this region but lower than global and U.S.-wide averages, respectively. Seagrass-derived carbon was deposited annually into adjacent marshes during fall seagrass senescence. However, isotope mixing models estimate that negligible amounts of this seagrass material were ultimately buried in underlying sediment. Rather, the vast majority of OC in sediment across sites was likely derived from planktonic/benthic diatoms and C3 salt marsh plants.

Melissa A. Ward et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2021-27', Fernanda Adame, 12 Mar 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2021-27', Toshihiro Miyajima, 16 Mar 2021

Melissa A. Ward et al.

Melissa A. Ward et al.

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Short summary
Salt marshes and seagrass meadows (blue carbon habitats) can sequester and store high levels of organic carbon (OC) – helping to mitigate climate change. In California blue carbon sediments, we quantified OC storage and exchange between these habitats. We find that 1) these salt marshes store about twice as much OC as do seagrass meadows, and 2) while OC from seagrass meadows is deposited into neighboring salt marshes, little of this material is sequestered as long-term carbon.
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