Current state of knowledge regarding the world’s wetlands and their future under global climate change: a synthesis

Abstract

Wetlands cover at least 6 % of the Earth’s surface. They play a key role in hydrological and biogeochemical cycles, harbour a large part of the world’s biodiversity, and provide multiple services to humankind. However, pressure in the form of land reclamation, intense resource exploitation, changes in hydrology, and pollution threaten wetlands on all continents. Depending on the region, 30–90 % of the world’s wetlands have already been destroyed or strongly modified in many countries with no sign of abatement. Climate change scenarios predict additional stresses on wetlands, mainly because of changes in hydrology, temperature increases, and a rise in sea level. Yet, intact wetlands play a key role as buffers in the hydrological cycle and as sinks for organic carbon, counteracting the effects of the increase in atmospheric CO2. Eight chapters comprising this volume of Aquatic Sciences analyze the current ecological situation and the use of the wetlands in major regions of the world in the context of global climate change. This final chapter provides a synthesis of the findings and recommendations for the sustainable use and protection of these important ecosystems.

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Correspondence to Wolfgang J. Junk.

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Junk, W.J., An, S., Finlayson, C.M. et al. Current state of knowledge regarding the world’s wetlands and their future under global climate change: a synthesis. Aquat Sci 75, 151–167 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00027-012-0278-z

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Keywords

  • Wetlands
  • Distribution
  • Threats
  • Management
  • Climate change