With this amount of sea level rise, salt water pulses from high tide floods and storm surges will become ever-more common in coastal ecosystems. Multiple LTER sites are running experiments and analyses to better examine the impacts of higher salinity on these communities– whether via transitory pulses or permanent inundation. Given that these ecosystems store up to 50x more carbon than terrestrial forests per unit area, there is considerable interest in how biogeochemical changes will alter net ecosystem carbon balance.
Seven researchers will share their findings at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting. Six of them will talk in a single afternoon session on “Saltwater Intrusion and Carbon Loss.” Among the questions being asked in these sessions:
How resilient are tidal freshwater marsh plant communities to pulses of saline water? How do they respond to different durations of exposure?
How might sea level rise inhibit wetland ecosystem services like nitrogen removal?
What effect will increased salinity have on soil organic carbon cycling — and therefore, on the ability of wetlands to accrete rapidly enough to outpace sea level rise?
How will marine water — and the phosphorus it carriers– impact species composition in benthic algal communities and overall carbon storage capacity?