, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 121–132 | Cite as

Greenhouse Gas Emission and Balance of Marshes at the Southern North Sea Coast

  • Sarah WitteEmail author
  • Luise Giani
Original Research


Environmental parameters controlling fluxes of greenhouse gases (GHG) differ spatially within landscapes. This study aimed to improve the understanding of landscape processes controlling GHG-fluxes of different landscape units of marshes (in terms of vegetation, land use and seawater inflow) at the Southern North Sea coast. For this emissions of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) were quantified and related to reported carbon sequestration rates. Ancillary environmental parameters were determined to identify controlling factors and thresholds enabling GHG emissions. For inland marshes (enclosed by embankments) the water level was the predominant factor controlling CH4 emissions ranging between 1.58 and 1544.70 kg CH4 ha−1 a−1. The duration of threshold (10 cm below surface) exceedance was found as a predictor for annual CH4 emissions. Emissions of outland marshes (influenced by tides) varying from −1.34 to 55.14 kg CH4 ha−1 a−1 were predominantly controlled by sulphate (\( \mathsf{S}{\mathsf{O}}_{\mathsf{4}}^{\mathsf{2}\hbox{-} } \)) concentrations, because soil CH4-contents were negligible when soil \( \mathsf{S}{\mathsf{O}}_{\mathsf{4}}^{\mathsf{2}\hbox{-} } \)-contents exceeded 0.5 mg g−1. The variability of the N2O-fluxes (−0.81 to 17.78 kg N2O ha−1 a−1) could not be explained by the collected environmental parameters. GHG balances indicated that inland extensive grasslands and particularly reed stands are net sources of CO2-equivalents (100 year time horizon), while outlands are natural sinks.


Methane Nitrous oxide Greenhouse gas balance Marshes Sulphate Coastal wetlands 



This study was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the joint research project COMTESS (COastal sustainable land Management Trade-offs in EcoSystem Services). We want to thank our partners (Stephan Glatzel, Stefan Koch and Stefan Köhler) from the University of Rostock who assisted us in measuring GHG and provided the hot-water soluble carbon data. We also thank the project coordination and all other project partners for inspirations and discussions supporting this study.


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Biology and Environmental ScienceUniversity of OldenburgOldenburgGermany

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