, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 401–413 | Cite as

Ecosystem Level Methane Fluxes from Tidal Freshwater and Brackish Marshes of the Mississippi River Delta: Implications for Coastal Wetland Carbon Projects

  • Guerry O. HolmJr.Email author
  • Brian C. Perez
  • David E. McWhorter
  • Ken W. Krauss
  • Darren J. Johnson
  • Richard C. Raynie
  • Charles J. Killebrew
Original Research


Sulfate from seawater inhibits methane production in tidal wetlands, and by extension, salinity has been used as a general predictor of methane emissions. With the need to reduce methane flux uncertainties from tidal wetlands, eddy covariance (EC) techniques provide an integrated methane budget. The goals of this study were to: 1) establish methane emissions from natural, freshwater and brackish wetlands in Louisiana based on EC; and 2) determine if EC estimates conform to a methane-salinity relationship derived from temperate tidal wetlands with chamber sampling. Annual estimates of methane emissions from this study were 62.3 g CH4/m2/yr and 13.8 g CH4/m2/yr for the freshwater and brackish (8–10 psu) sites, respectively. If it is assumed that long-term, annual soil carbon sequestration rates of natural marshes are ~200 g C/m2/yr (7.3 tCO2e/ha/yr), healthy brackish marshes could be expected to act as a net radiative sink, equivalent to less than one-half the soil carbon accumulation rate after subtracting methane emissions (4.1 tCO2e/ha/yr). Carbon sequestration rates would need case-by-case assessment, but the EC methane emissions estimates in this study conformed well to an existing salinity-methane model that should serve as a basis for establishing emission factors for wetland carbon offset projects.


Methane Tidal wetland Carbon sequestration Eddy covariance 



This research was funded by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority with special thanks to Jerome “Zee” Zeringue for his support. We would like to thank Mr. Tim Allen and Mr. Francis Fields of Apache Louisiana Minerals for supporting this research through access to Apache property. We would also like to thank the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for property access. We greatly appreciate the staff of Coastal Estuary Services (E. Bourg, T. Nguyen, C. Hymel, R. Messer, C. Northern, J. Pace, and J. Devore) who made it possible to access distant sites, and their assistance with sampling and servicing instruments. We appreciate the work and expertise of R.F. Moss and N. Cormier of the USGS during field data collection. We also extend our thanks to the insights of the two anonymous reviewers that improved the manuscript. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Supplementary material

13157_2016_746_MOESM1_ESM.doc (89 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 89 kb)


  1. Alford DP, DeLaune RD, Lindau CW (1997) Methane flux from Mississippi River deltaic plain wetlands. Biogeochemistry 37:227–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American Carbon Registry (2012) Restoration of Degraded Wetlands of the Mississippi Delta, Version 1.0.
  3. Baldocchi D (2014) Measuring fluxes of trace gases and energy between ecosystems and the atmosphere: the state and future of the eddy covariance method. Glob Chang Biol 20:3600–3609CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartlett KB, Harriss RC, Sebacher DI (1985) Methane flux from coastal salt marshes. J Geophys Res 90:5710–5720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartlett KB, Bartlett DS, Harriss RC, Sebacher DI (1987) Methane emissions along a salt-marsh salinity gradient. Biogeochemistry 4:183–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bass A, Turner RE (1997) Relationships between salt marsh loss and dredged canals in three Louisiana estuaries. J Coast Res 13:895–903Google Scholar
  7. Blum MD, Roberts HH (2009) Drowning of the Mississippi delta due to insufficient sediment supply and global sea-level rise. Nat Geosci 2:488–491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bridgham SD, Cadillo-Quiroz H, Keller JK, Zhuang Q (2013) Methane emissions from wetlands: biogeochemical, microbial, and modeling perspectives from local to global scales. Glob Chang Biol 19:1325–1346CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Bridgham SD, Moore TR, Richardson CJ, Roulet NT (2014) Errors in greenhouse forcing and soil carbon sequestration estimates in freshwater wetlands: a comment on Mitsch et al (2013) Landsc Ecol 29:1481–1485Google Scholar
  10. Burba G (2012) Eddy Covariance Method for scientific. A Field Book on Measuring Ecosystem Gas Exchange and Areal Emission Rates Published by LI-COR, Lincoln, NE, Industrial, Agricultural and Regulatory ApplicationsGoogle Scholar
  11. Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (2012) Louisiana’s comprehensive master plan for a Sustainable Coast Main Report Baton Rouge, La 190 ppGoogle Scholar
  12. Coastwide Reference Monitoring System-Wetlands Monitoring Data (2015) Retrieved from Coastal Information Management System (CIMS) database. http://www.lacoastgov/crms2/homeaspx. Accessed 06 Jan 2015
  13. Couvillion BR, Barras JA, Steyer GD, Sleavin W, Fischer M, Beck H, Trahan N, Griffin B, Heckman D (2011) Land area change in coastal Louisiana from 1932 to 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3164 12 p. pamphlet8Google Scholar
  14. Crozier CR, DeLaune, RD (1996) Methane production by soils from different Louisiana marsh vegetation types. Wetlands 16:121-126Google Scholar
  15. Day JW, Kemp GP, Freeman A, Muth DP (2014) Perspectives on the restoration of the Mississippi delta: the once and future delta. Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 194Google Scholar
  16. DeLaune RD, White JR (2011) Will coastal wetlands continue to sequester carbon in response to increase in global sea level? A case study of the rapidly subsiding Mississippi River deltaic plain. Clim Chang 110:297–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DeLaune RD, Smith CJ, Patrick WH Jr (1983) Methane release from gulf coast wetlands. Tellus 35:8–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foken T, Gockede M, Mauder M, Mahrt L, Amiro BD, Munger JW (2004) Post-field quality control. In: Lee X, Massman WJ, Law BE (eds) Handbook of micrometeorology: a guide for surface flux measurements. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, pp. 81–108Google Scholar
  19. Göckede M, Foken T, Aubinet M, Aurela M, Banza J, et al. (2008) Quality control of CarboEurope flux data - part 1: coupling footprint analyses with flux data quality assessment to evaluate sites in forest ecosystems. Biogeosciences 5:433–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hansen VD, Nestlerode JA (2014) Carbon sequestration in wetland soils of the Northern Gulf Of Mexico coastal region. Wetl Ecol Manag 22:289–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hatala JA, Detto M, Sonnentag O, Deverel SJ, Verfaillie J, Baldocchi DD (2012) Greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4, H2O) fluxes from drained and flooded agricultural peatlands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Agriculture. Ecol Environ 150:1–18Google Scholar
  22. Ibrom A, Dellwik E, Flyvbjerg H, Jensen NO, Pilegaard K (2007) Strong low-pass filtering effects on water vapor flux measurements with closed-path eddy correlation systems. Agric For Meteorol 147:140–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kljun N, Calanca P, Rotach M, Schmid H (2004) A Simple Parameterization for Flux Footprint Predictions. Boundary-Layer Meteorology 112:503–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kormann R, Meixner FX (2001) An Analytical Footprint Model for Non-Neutral Stratification Boundary Layer Meteorology 99:207–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. LI-COR Biosciences (2012) EddyPro 4.0: Help and User’s Guide. Lincoln, NE: LI-COR, IncGoogle Scholar
  26. Mcleod E, Chmura GL, Bouillon S, Salm R, Björk M, Duarte CM, Lovelock CE, Schlesinger WH, Silliman BR (2011) A blueprint for blue carbon: toward an improved understanding of the role of vegetated coastal habitats in sequestering CO2. Front Ecol Environ 9(10):552–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mitsch WJ, Bernal B, Nahlik AM, Mander U, Zhang L, Anderson CJ, Jorgersen SE, Brix H (2013) Wetlands, carbon, and climate change. Landsc Ecol 28:583–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Moncrieff JB, Massheder JM, de Bruin H, Ebers J, Friborg T, Heusinkveld B, Kabat P, Scott S, Soegaard H, Verhoef A (1997) A system to measure surface fluxes of momentum, sensible heat, water vapour and carbon dioxide. J Hydrol 188-189:589–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Moncrieff JB, Clement R, Finnigan J, Meyers T (2004) Averaging, detrending and filtering of eddy covariance time series. In: Lee X, Massman WJ, Law BE (eds) Handbook of micrometeorology: a guide for surface flux measurements. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, pp. 7–31Google Scholar
  30. Myhre G, Shindell D, Bréon FM, Collins W, Fuglestvedt J, Huang J, Koch D, Lamarque JF, Lee D, Mendoza B, Nakajima T, Robock A, Stephens G, Takemura T, Zhang H (2013) Anthropogenic and natural radiative forcing. In: Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner GK, Tignor M, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM (eds) Climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  31. Neubauer SC (2013) Ecosystem responses of a tidal fresh marsh experiencing saltwater intrusion and altered hydrology. Estuar Coasts 36:491–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Neubauer SC (2014) On the challenges of modeling the net radiative forcing of wetlands: reconsidering Mitsch et al 2013. Landsc Ecol 29:571–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Neubauer SC, Megonigal JP (2015) Moving beyond global warming potentials to quantify the climatic role of ecosystems. Ecosystems 18:1000–1013Google Scholar
  34. Nyman JA, Walters RJ, DeLaune RD, Patrick WH Jr (2006) Marsh vertical accretion via vegetative growth. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 69:370–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Petrescu AMR et al. (2015) The uncertain climate footprint of wetlands under human pressure. Proceedings National Academy Of Sciences 112:4594–4599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Piazza SC, Steyer GD, Cretini KF, Sasser CE, Visser JM, Holm GO Jr, Sharp LA, Evers DE, Meriwether JR (2011) Geomorphic and ecological effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on coastal Louisiana marsh communities. US Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1094Google Scholar
  37. Poffenbarger HJ, Needleman BA, Megonigal JP (2011) Salinity influence on methane emissions from tidal marshes. Wetlands 31:831–842CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Reddy KR, DeLaune RD (2008) Biogeochemistry of wetlands: science and applications. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FloridaCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rinne J, Riutta T, Pihlatie M, Aurela M, Haapanala S, Tuovinen JP, Tuittila ES, Vesala T (2007) Annual cycle of methane emission from a boreal fen measured by the eddy covariance technique. Tellus 59:449–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. SAS (2015) Version 9.1, SAS Institute, Cary, North CarolinaGoogle Scholar
  41. Sasser CE, Gosselink JG, Swenson EM, Swarzenski CM, Leibowitz NC (1996) Vegetation, substrate, and hydrology in floating marshes in the Mississippi river delta plain wetlands, USA. Vegetatio 122:129–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schrier-Uijl AP, Kroon PS, Hensen A, Leffelaar PA, Berendse F, Veenendaal EM (2010) Comparison of chamber and eddy covariance-based CO2 and CH4 emission estimates in a heterogeneous grass ecosystem on peat. Agric For Meteorol 150:825–831CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Swarzenski CM, Swenson EM, Sasser CE, Gosselink JG (1991) Marsh mat floatation in the Louisiana delta plain. J Ecol 79:999–1011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Swarzenski CM, Doyle TW, Fry B, Hargis TG (2008) Biogeochemical response of organic-rich freshwater marshes in the Louisiana delta plain to chronic river water influx. Biogeochemistry 90:49–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Teh YA, Silver WL, Sonnentag O, Detto M, Kelly M, Baldocchi DD (2011) Large greenhouse gas emissions from a temperate peatland pasture. Ecosystems 14:311–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Trewartha GT, Horn LH (1980) Introduction to climate, Fifth edition. McGraw Hill, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  47. Turetksy MR et al. (2014) A synthesis of methane emissions from 71 northern, temperate, and subtropical wetlands. Glob Chang Biol 20:2183–2197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Verified Carbon Standard (2014) Methodology for Coastal Wetland Creation. Version 1.0Google Scholar
  49. Vickers D, Mahrt L (1997) Quality control and flux sampling problems for tower and aircraft data. J Atmos Ocean Technol 14:512–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wang JM, Murphy JG, Geddes JA, Winsborough CL, Basiliko N, Thomas SC (2013) Methane fluxes measured by eddy covariance and static chamber techniques at a temperate forest in Central Ontario, Canada. Biogeosciences 10:4371–4382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Webb EK, Pearman G, Leuning R (1980) Correction of flux measurements for density effects due to heat and water vapor transfer. Q J R Meteorol Soc 106:85–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Whalen, SC (2005) Biogeochemistry of methane exchange between natural wetlands and the atmosphere. Environ Eng Sci 22:73–94Google Scholar
  53. Whiting GL, Chanton JP (2001) Greenhouse carbon balance of wetlands: methane emission versus carbon sequestration. Tellus 53:521–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wilson CA, Allison MA (2008) An equilibrium profile model for retreating shorelines in Southeast Louisiana. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 80:483–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Yu L, Wang H, Wang G, Song W, Huang Y, Li S, Liang N, Tang Y, He J (2013) A comparison of methane emission measurements using eddy covariance and manual and automated chamber-based techniques in Tibetan plateau alpine wetland. Environ Pollut 181:81–90CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Zhang Y, Sachs T, Li C, Boike J (2012) Upscaling methane fluxes from closed chambers to eddy covariance based on a permafrost biogeochemistry integrated model. Glob Chang Biol 18:1428–1440CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guerry O. HolmJr.
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brian C. Perez
    • 1
  • David E. McWhorter
    • 1
  • Ken W. Krauss
    • 2
  • Darren J. Johnson
    • 3
  • Richard C. Raynie
    • 4
  • Charles J. Killebrew
    • 4
  1. 1.CH2MBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyUSGS Wetland and Aquatic Research CenterLafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Cherokee Nations Technical SolutionsWetland and Aquatic Research CenterLafayetteUSA
  4. 4.Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration AuthorityBaton RougeUSA

Personalised recommendations