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Title Inorganic carbon and oxygen dynamics in a marsh-dominated estuary
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We conducted a free-water mass balance-based study to address the rate of metabolism and net carbon exchange for the tidal wetland and estuarine portion of the coastal ocean and the uncertainties associated with this approach were assessed. We measured open water diurnal O2 and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) dynamics seasonally in a salt marsh-estuary in Georgia, U.S.A. with a focus on the marsh-estuary linkage associated with tidal flooding. We observed that the overall estuarine system was a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere and coastal ocean and a net sink for oceanic and atmospheric O2. Rates of metabolism were extremely high, with respiration (43 mol m−2 yr−1) greatly exceeding gross primary production (28 mol m−2 yr−1), such that the overall system was net heterotrophic. Metabolism measured with DIC were higher than with O2, which we attribute to high rates of anaerobic respiration and reduced sulfur storage in salt marsh sediments, and we assume substantial levels of anoxygenic photosynthesis. We found gas exchange from a flooded marsh is substantial, accounting for about 28% of total O2 and CO2 air-water exchange. A significant percentage of the overall estuarine aquatic metabolism is attributable to metabolism of marsh organisms during inundation. Our study suggests not rely on oceanographic stoichiometry to convert from O2 to C based measurements when constructing C balances for the coastal ocean. We also suggest eddy covariance measurements of salt marsh net ecosystem exchange underestimate net ecosystem production as they do not account for lateral DIC exchange associated with marsh tidal inundation.

Contributors Shiyu Wang, Daniela Di Iorio, Wei-Jun Cai and Charles S. Hopkinson

Wang, S., Di Iorio, D., Cai, W.-J. and Hopkinson, C.S. 2018. Inorganic carbon and oxygen dynamics in a marsh-dominated estuary. Limnology and Oceanography. 63(1):47-71. (DOI: 10.1002/lno.10614)

Key Words Inorganic carbon, marsh-dominated estuary, oxygen dynamics, SINERR Publication, Student Publication, UGAMI Publication
File Date 2018
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.