Effects of Experimental Warming on Net Greenhouse Gas Fluxes from a New England Salt Marsh
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Salt marsh ecosystems face a variety of anthropogenic stressors, including rising temperature, increasing rate of relative sea level rise, changing sediment loads, and increasing nitrogen loads. In this study, we focus on the role of increased temperatures in altering net greenhouse gas fluxes (CO2, CH4, N2O) in a relatively undisturbed New England salt marsh (Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, USA). Salt marshes are considered large net sinks of carbon (C), due in part to the high rates of primary production and relatively slow decomposition rates. However, increased temperature as a result of climate change may alter the net carbon balance of these ecosystems, due to changes in relative rates of respiration and photosynthesis. In addition to altering the net C balance, nitrous oxide (N2O) is produced in part via microbially-mediated processes that also respond to temperature (e.g. nitrification, denitrification). Thus, we hypothesize that higher temperatures may increase the fluxes of this potent GHG from marshes to the atmosphere. To examine the role of warming in altering net GHG fluxes, we installed six open-top-chambers (OTCs) in both the high and low marsh during July of 2014. We used the cavity ring-down spectroscopy method (Picarro and LGR) to measure in-situ fluxes of CO2, CH4, N2O monthly in light and dark conditions. We will present data demonstrating that our OTCs successfully warmed the air temperature in the plots at least 5 ˚C and evaluate how this temperature increase altered GHG net ecosystem exchange in the marsh.