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Experimentally simulated sea level rise destabilizes carbon-mineral associations in temperate tidal marsh soil

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Abstract

How sea level rise (SLR) alters carbon (C) dynamics in tidal salt marsh soils is unresolved. Changes in hydrodynamics could influence organo-mineral associations, influencing dissolved organic carbon (DOC) fluxes. As SLR increases the duration of inundation, we hypothesize that lateral DOC export will increase due to reductive dissolution of C-bearing iron (Fe) oxides, destabilizing soil C stocks and influencing greenhouse gas emissions. To test this, soil cores (0–8 cm depth) were collected from the high marsh of a temperate salt marsh that currently experiences changes in water level and soil redox oscillation due to spring-neap tides. Mesocosms experimentally simulated SLR by continuously inundating high marsh soils and were compared to mesocosms with Control conditions, where the water level oscillated on a spring-neap cycle. Porewater DOC, lateral DOC, and porewater reduced Fe (Fe2+) concentrations were significantly higher in SLR treatments (1.7 ± 0.5 mM, 0.63 ± 0.14 mM, and 0.15 ± 0.11 mM, respectively) than Control treatments (1.2 ± 0.35 mM, 0.56 ± 0.15 mM, and 0.08 ± 01 mM, respectively Solid phase analysis with Fe extended X-ray absorption fine-structure spectroscopy further revealed that SLR led to > 3 times less Fe oxide-C coprecipitates than Control conditions In addition, the overall global warming potential (GWP) decreased under SLR due to suppressed CO2 emissions. Our data suggest that SLR may increase lateral C export of current C stocks by dissolving C-bearing Fe oxides but decrease the overall GWP from emissions of soil trace gases. These findings have implications for understanding the fate of SOC dynamics under future SLR scenarios.

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Data availability

The datasets used for this study are available in Figshare (10.6084/m9.figshare.21989984).

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Acknowledgements

We thank Chloe Kroll for sampling assistance, UD Soil Testing Laboratory for analytical assistance, Bruce Ravell for beamline assistance, Laurel Thomas Arrigo for the use of a ferrihydrite-galacturonic acid coprecipitate standard for Fe EXAFS, and the staff of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR). A.L.S. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation Grants #1759879 and #2012484, S.F. acknowledges support from the Delaware Environmental Institute, and R.V. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation grant #1652594 and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant #DE-SC0023099 and #DE-SC0022185. Parts of this research used the BMM (6-BM) Beamline of the National Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource II, an Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Brookhaven National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-SC0012704. The authors acknowledge the land on which they conducted this study is the traditional home of the Lenni-Lenape tribal nation (Delaware nation).

Funding

A.L.S. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation Grants #1759879 and #2012484, S.F. acknowledges support from the Delaware Environmental Institute, and R.V. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation grant #1652594 and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grants #DE-SC0023099 and #DE-SC0022185.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by SF. The first draft of the manuscript was written by SF and ALS with edits by RV. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Angelia L. Seyfferth.

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Fettrow, S., Vargas, R. & Seyfferth, A.L. Experimentally simulated sea level rise destabilizes carbon-mineral associations in temperate tidal marsh soil. Biogeochemistry 163, 103–120 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-023-01024-z

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