29 Aug 2022
29 Aug 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Post-flooding disturbance recovery promotes carbon capture in riparian zones

Yihong Zhu3,4,, Ruihua Liu1,4,, Huai Zhang1, Shaoda Liu2, Zhengfeng Zhang1, Feihai Yu5, and Timothy G. Gregoire4 Yihong Zhu et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Planetary, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China
  • 2State Key Laboratory for Water Environment Simulation, School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China
  • 3Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, 94704, USA
  • 4Yale School of the Environment, Yale University, New Haven, 06511, USA
  • 5Institute of Wetland Ecology & Clone Ecology; Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Plant Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation, Taizhou University, Thaizhou, 318000, China
  • Yihong Zhu and Ruihua Liu contributed equally to this paper.

Abstract. Vegetation, water, and carbon dioxide have complex interactions on carbon mitigation in vegetation-water ecosystems. As one of the major global change drivers of carbon sequestration, water disturbance is a fundamental but poorly discussed topic to date. The riparian zone is a representative highly dynamic vegetation-water carbon capture system. Unfortunately, its global carbon offset functionality is remarkably underestimated. This study examines the daily CO2 perturbations in the riparian zone with two-year in-situ observations along the Lijiang River. We show that the riparian zone transformed from a carbon source to carbon sink after recovery from flooding. Consequently, a quantitative global riparian carbon offset model is proposed. Based on the intensity of flooding submergence and post-flooding vegetation coverage, ~0.11Gt·year-1 CO2 is captured following flooding, and 0.53 Gt·year-1 more CO2 is captured due to flooding, which is equivalent to 9.1 % of the global forest carbon sequestration. This finding shed new light on the quantitative modelling of the riparian carbon cycle under flooding disturbance, underlining the importance of the proper restoration of riparian systems to achieve global carbon offset.

Yihong Zhu 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-2022-175', Anonymous Referee #1, 11 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2022-175', Anonymous Referee #2, 31 Oct 2022

Yihong Zhu et al.

Yihong Zhu et al.


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Short summary
With global warming, the risk of flooding is rising, but the response of riparian carbon cycle to flooding is still unclear. Based on the data collected in the Lijiang River, we found that flooding would lead to significant carbon emission of river, but carbon capture happens after flooding. 0.53 Gt·year-1 more CO2 is captured, which is 9.1 % of the total flux of global forest. In the terrestrial area, the survived vegetation, especially clonal plants, can help neutralize the carbon emissions.