Wetland Carbon Working Group: Improving Methodologies and Estimates of Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Flux in Wetlands

Science Center Objects

WARC researchers are working to quantify the impacts of future climate and land use/land cover change on greenhouse gas emissions and reductions.

The Science Issue and Relevance: Coastal wetlands provide valuable ecosystem services, including habitat for fisheries, storm protection, and water quality improvement, among others. Coastal wetlands also have a unique capacity to remove large quantities of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, trapping carbon in soils deep below the surface. Therefore, restoration and conservation of coastal wetlands can provide multiple benefits, including mitigation of climate change. Our objective is to quantify the impacts of future climate and land use/land cover change on greenhouse gas emissions and reductions. We will forecast emissions and reductions based on multiple land management (e.g., conservation, restoration) and climate change scenarios, focusing on coastal wetlands in addition to terrestrial ecosystems. These scenario-based projections will help decision makers develop strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and optimize coastal resilience. The forecasting tool created here will be transferrable to multiple coastal regions and scalable nation-wide to address nationally relevant policy targets.

LUCAS model

Model-data assimilation workflow for Land Use and Carbon Scenario Simulator (LUCAS) model in coastal “blue carbon” ecosystems of Louisiana.

(Public domain.)


Methodology for Addressing the Issue: The goal of this project is to advance existing scenario-based forecasting tools to project climate and land cover change impacts on coastal carbon sequestration (Land Use CArbon Simulation or LUCAS, model). To accomplish this, we will integrate existing terrestrial and coastal simulation models of land management and carbon to expand the spatial scope of projections to include all major ecosystem types. We will also incorporate existing regional climate and land management scenarios from state partners to forecast their contribution to future coastal resilience (Figure 1). The tool is valuable to stakeholders who will use the output to develop emission target strategies.

The regionally focused product will serve the needs of local stakeholders, and it will also provide a framework for application in other regions, and at different scales. Louisiana was selected as a test case for the integrated model application based on its data availability and high-profile wetland vulnerability.


Future Steps: The work described here is the initial phase of a long-term project with the goal of forecasting climate and land use impacts on carbon sequestration at the conterminous U.S. (CONUS) scale for all terrestrial and coastal ecosystems. The test case application in Louisiana will provide much needed data to stakeholders, as well as a blueprint for applying this framework to the CONUS scale to inform nationally relevant policies.