Carbon Sequestration 101

Coastal wetland ecosystems (salt marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds) can store large quantities carbon for two main reasons:

  1. Their plants usually grow a lot each year, and in the process, capture (or sequester) large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  2. Their soils are largely anaerobic (without oxygen) so carbon that gets incorporated into the soils decomposes very slowly and can persist for hundreds or even thousands of years (carbon storage).

The diagram below details the mechanisms by which carbon moves into and out of coastal wetlands…

carbon_cycleFull Article: NOAA Habitat Conservation http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/coastalcarbonsequestration.html