Carbon Sequestration and Storage by Wetlands: Implications in the Climate Change Scenario

  • Afreen J. Lolu
  • Amrik S. Ahluwalia
  • Malkiat C. Sidhu
  • Zafar A. Reshi
  • S. K. Mandotra


The impacts of climate change are discernible and can only be reduced through proper adaptation and mitigation techniques. Wetlands represent an excellent example of natural ecosystems providing a wide range of ecosystem services valuing billions of dollars. The service of carbon sequestration by wetlands is directly linked to greenhouse gas regulation and climate change. They are known to have higher rates of carbon sequestration than any other terrestrial ecosystem on this planet. This is because of their higher above- and belowground productivity, anoxic soil conditions, and higher sedimentation rates. The most important factor affecting carbon sequestration in wetlands is substrate availability which depends on the type and composition of vegetation. Wetland vegetation is mainly responsible for determining the detritus quality and the carbon sequestration capacity of wetlands. Unfortunately, wetlands are under various anthropogenic pressures which affect their functional capacity of acting as sinks of carbon. Climate change also has a positive feedback on their functioning. Therefore, their maintenance and conservation are imperative, for they act as an important pool to balance the deleterious impacts of climate change. If climate change is not taken care of, then wetlands may act as a source of carbon, stored by them over years, and can augment the problem. Moreover, the concept of constructed wetlands needs to be encouraged to increase the number of potential carbon sinks. Their methane emissions can also be controlled by regulating C:N and N:P ratios in their soils.


Climate change Carbon sequestration Ecosystem services Constructed wetlands 



The corresponding author would like to thank Chairperson, Department of Botany, Panjab University, Chandigarh, for providing the necessary facilities during the course of this study.


  1. Alongi DM (2014) Carbon cycling and storage in mangrove forests. Ann Rev Mar Sci 6:195–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aselmann I, Crutzen PJ (1989) Global distribution of natural freshwater wetlands and rice paddies, their net primary productivity, seasonality and possible methane emissions. J Atmos Chem 8:307–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Badiou P, McDougal R, Pennock D et al (2011) Greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration potential in restored wetlands of the Canadian prairie pothole region. Wetl Ecol Manag 19:237–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bao K, Yu X, Jia L et al (2010) Recent carbon accumulation in Changbai Mountain peatlands, Northeast China. Mt Res Dev 30:33–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernal B, Mitsch WJ (2012) Comparing carbon sequestration in temperate freshwater wetland communities. Glob Chang Biol 18:1636–1647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bianchini JI, Cunha-Santino MB (2016) CH4 and CO2 from decomposition of Salvinia auriculata Aublet, a macrophyte with high invasive potential. Wetlands 36:557–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bloom AA, Palmer PI, Fraser A et al (2010) Large-scale controls of methanogenesis inferred from methane and gravity space borne data. Science 327:322–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bonotto DM, Vergotti M (2015) 210Pb and compositional data of sediments from Rondonian lakes, Madeira River basin, Brazil. Appl Radiat Isot 99:5–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brenner M, Schelske CL, Keenan LW (2001) Historical rates of sediment and nutrient accumulation in marshes of the Upper St. Johns river basin, Florida, USA. J Paleolimnol 26:241–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bridgham SD, Megonigal JP, Keller JK et al (2006) The carbon balance of North American wetlands. Wetlands 26(4):889–916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brix H, Sorrell BK, Lorenzen B (2001) Are Phragmites-dominated wetlands a net source or net sink of greenhouse gases? Aquat Bot 69:313–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. CDIAC (2015) Carbon dioxide information analysis center. US Department of Energy, Oak RidgeGoogle Scholar
  13. Craft CB, Casey WP (2000) Sediment and nutrient accumulation in floodplain and depressional freshwater wetlands of Georgia, USA. Wetlands 20:323–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Craft C, Washburn C, Parker A (2008) Latitudinal trends in organic carbon accumulation in temperate freshwater peatlands. In: Vymazal J (ed) Wastewater treatment plant dynamics and management in constructed and natural wetlands. Springer Science, New York, pp 23–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Day JW, Narras J, Clairain E et al (2005) Implications of global climatic change and energy cost and availability for the restoration of the Mississippi delta. Ecol Eng 24:253–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Deegan LA, Johnson DS, Warren RS et al (2012) Coastal eutrophication as a driver of salt marsh loss. Nature 490(7420):388–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Devol AH, Richey JE, Clark WA, King SL, Martenelli LA (1988) Methane emissions to the troposphere from the Amazon floodplain. J Geophys Res 93:1583–1592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dore MHI (2005) Climate change and changes in global precipitation patterns: what do we know. Environ Int 31:1167–1181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Erwin KL (2009) Wetlands and global climate change: the role of wetland restoration in a changing world. Wetl Ecol Manag 17:71–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferrati R, Canziani GA, Moreno DR (2005) Estero delIbera: hydrometeorological and hydrological characterization. Ecol Model 186:3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Finlayson CM, Arthington AH, Pittock J (eds) (2018) Freshwater ecosystems in protected areas: conservation and management. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Fonseca ALS, Marinho CC, Esteves FA (2015) Aquatic macrophytes detritus quality and sulfate availability shape the methane production pattern in a dystrophic coastal lagoon. Am J Plant Sci 6:1675–1684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Graham SA, Craft CB, McCormick PV et al (2005) Forms and accumulation of soil P in natural recently restored peatlands: Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, USA. Wetlands 25:594–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hartel PG (2005) The soil habitat. In: Sylvia DM, Fuhrmann JJ, Hartel PG, Zuberer DA (eds) Principles and applications of soil microbiology, 2nd edn. Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, pp 26–53Google Scholar
  25. Hendriks DMD, van Huissteden J, Dolman AJ et al (2007) The full greenhouse gas balance of an abandoned peat meadow. Biogeosci Discuss 4:411–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hernes PJ, Robinson AC, Aufdenkampe AK (2007) Fractionation of lignin during leaching and sorption and implications for organic matter freshness. Geophys Res Lett 34:L17401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Howe AJ, Rodriguez JF, Saco PM (2009) Surface evolution and carbon sequestration in disturbed and undisturbed wetland soils of the Hunter Estuary, southeast Australia. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 84:75–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hugelius G, Tarnocai C, Broll G et al (2013) The Northern Circumpolar Soil Carbon Database: spatially distributed datasets of soil coverage and soil carbon storage in the northern permafrost regions. Earth Syst Sci Data 5:3–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. IPCC (2013) 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, UKGoogle Scholar
  30. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, Contribution of working group II to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK/New York, p 1132Google Scholar
  31. Junk WJ, An S, Finlayson CM et al (2013) Current state of knowledge regarding the world’s wetlands and their future under global climate change: a synthesis. Aquat Sci 75:151–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kadlec RH, Knight RL (1996) Treatment wetlands. CRC, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  33. Kayranli B, Scholz M, Mustafa A, Hedmark A (2010) Carbon storage and fluxes within freshwater wetlands: a critical review. Wetlands 30:111–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kim JG (2003) Response of sediment chemistry and accumulation rates to recent environmental changes in the Clear Lake watershed, California, USA. Wetlands 23:95–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. King GM (1994) Associations of methanotrophs with the roots and rhizomes of aquatic vegetation. Appl Environ Microbiol 60:3220–3227Google Scholar
  36. Kuzyakov Y (2010) Priming effects: interactions between living and dead organic matter. Soil Biol Biochem 42:1363–1371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lal R (2008) Carbon sequestration. Philos Trans R Soc B 363(1492):815–830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Le Quéré C, Andrew RM, Canadell JG et al (2016) Global carbon budget 2016. Earth Syst Sci Data 8(2):605–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lenhart M (2009) An unseen carbon sink. Nat Rep Clim Chang 3137–3138Google Scholar
  40. Mander Ü, Lõhmus K, Teiter S et al (2008) Gaseous fluxes in the nitrogen and carbon budgets of subsurface flow constructed wetlands. Sci Total Environ 404:343–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Maqbool C, Khan AB (2013) Biomass and carbon content of emergent macrophytes in Lake Manasbal, Kashmir: implications for carbon capture and sequestration. Int J Sci Res Public 3:1–7Google Scholar
  42. Miria A, Khan AB (2014) Sediment carbon storage of two main wetlands in Pondicherry, India. Int J Sci Res Environ Sci 2:332–339Google Scholar
  43. Mitsch WJ, Gosselink JG (2007) Wetlands, 4th edn. Wiley, Hoboken, p 582Google Scholar
  44. Mitsch WJ, Gosselink JG (2015) Wetlands, 5th edn. Wiley, Hoboken, p 744Google Scholar
  45. Mitsch WJ, Bernal B, Nahlik AM et al (2012) Wetlands, carbon and climate change. Landsc Ecol 28:583–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Moomaw WR, Chmura GL, Davies GT et al (2018) Wetlands in a changing climate: science, policy and management. Wetlands 38:183–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Moore TR, Roulet NT (1995) Methane emissions from Canadian peatlands. In: Lal R et al (eds) Advances in soil science: soils and global change. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 153–164Google Scholar
  48. Mostofa KMG, Wu FC, Yoshioka T et al (2009) Dissolved organic matter in the aquatic environments. In: Wu FC, Xing B (eds) Natural organic matter and its significance in the environment. Science Press, Beijing, pp 3–66Google Scholar
  49. NOAA (2018) Trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide. In: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Monitoring DivisionGoogle Scholar
  50. Pal S, Chattopadhyay B, Datta S et al (2017) Potential of wetland macrophytes to sequester carbon and assessment of seasonal carbon input into the East Kolkata Wetland Ecosystem. Wetlands 37:497–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Paris Agreement (2015) UNFCCC, Adoption of the Paris agreement. COP, 25th session Paris, 30 November to 11 December, 2015Google Scholar
  52. Reddy KR, DeLaune RD (2008) Biogeochemistry of wetlands: science and applications. CRC Press, Boca RatonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Roner M, D’Alpaos A, Ghinassi M et al (2016) Spatial variation of salt-marsh organic and inorganic deposition and organic carbon accumulation: inferences from the Venice lagoon, Italy. Adv Water Resour 93:276–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Saunders MJ, Jones MB, Kansiime F (2007) Carbon and water cycles in tropical papyrus wetlands. Wetl Ecol Manag 15:489–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Six J, Conant RT, Paul EA et al (2002) Stabilization mechanisms of soil organic matter: implications for C-saturation of soils. Plant Soil 241:155–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Smith LK, Melack JM, Hammond DE (2002) Carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus content and 210Pb derived burial rates in sediments of an Amazon flood plain lake. Amazoniana 17:413–436Google Scholar
  57. Space Applications Centre (SAC) (1998) National Wetland Atlas. SAC, Indian Space Research Organisation, AhmedabadGoogle Scholar
  58. Suratman MH (2008) Carbon sequestration potential of mangroves in south east Asia. In: Bravo F, LeMay V, Jandl R, von Gadow K (eds) Managing forest ecosystems. The challenge of climate change. Springer Science, The Netherlands, pp 297–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Turunen J, Tomppo E, Tolonen K et al (2002) Estimating carbon accumulation rates of undrained mires in Finland: application to boreal and subarctic regions. The Holocene 12:79–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ussiri DA, Lal R (2017) Carbon sequestration for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Springer, ChamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Whiting GJ, Chanton JP (2001) Greenhouse carbon balance of wetlands: methane emission versus carbon sequestration. Tellus B 53:521–528Google Scholar
  62. WMO (2016) World Meteorological Organization (WMO) greenhouse gas bulletin: the state of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere based on global observation through 2015, Bulletin No. 12. World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW), Geneva, p 8Google Scholar
  63. Wynn TM, Liehr SK (2001) Development of a constructed subsurface flow wetland simulation model. Ecol Eng 16:519–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Zehetner F, Lair GJ, Gerzabek MH (2009) Rapid carbon accretion and organic matter pool stabilization in riverine floodplain soils. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 23:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Afreen J. Lolu
    • 1
  • Amrik S. Ahluwalia
    • 1
  • Malkiat C. Sidhu
    • 1
  • Zafar A. Reshi
    • 2
  • S. K. Mandotra
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyPanjab UniversityChandigarhIndia
  2. 2.Department of BotanyUniversity of KashmirSrinagarIndia

Personalised recommendations