Stocks and losses of soil organic carbon from Chinese vegetated coastal habitats
C. Fu. Y. Li, L. Zeng, H. Zhang, C. Tu, Q. Zhou, K. Xiong, J. Wu, C.M. Duarte, P. Christie, Y. Luo
Change Biol, (2020)
Blue carbon, carbon burial, carbon loss, carbon stock, climate change, sequestration potential, soil organic carbon
Global vegetated coastal habitats (VCHs) represent a large sink for organic carbon (OC) stored within their soils. The regional patterns and causes of spatial variation, however, remain uncertain. The sparsity and regional bias of studies on soil OC stocks from Chinese VCHs have limited the reliable estimation of their capacity as regional and global OC sinks. Here, we use field and published data from 262 sampled soil cores and 181 surface soils to report estimates of soil OC stocks, burial rates and losses of VCHs in China. We find that Chinese mangrove, salt marsh and seagrass habitats have relatively low OC stocks, storing 6.3 ± 0.6, 7.5 ± 0.6, and 1.6 ± 0.6 Tg C (±95% confidence interval) in the top meter of the soil profile with burial rates of 44 ± 17, 159 ± 57, and 6 ± 45 Gg C/year, respectively. The variability in the soil OC stocks is linked to biogeographic factors but is mostly impacted by sedimentary processes and anthropic activities. All habitats have experienced significant losses, resulting in estimated emissions of 94.2–395.4 Tg CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) over the past 70 years. Reversing this trend through conservation and restoration measures has, therefore, great potential in contributing to the mitigation of climate change while providing additional benefits. This assessment, on a national scale from highly sedimentary environments under intensive anthropogenic pressures, provides important insights into blue carbon sink mechanism and sequestration capacities, thus contributing to the synchronous progression of global blue carbon management.