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Do ENSO and Coastal Development Enhance Coastal Burial of Terrestrial Carbon?

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Version 2 2024-06-17, 17:42
Version 1 2016-03-03, 10:24
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-17, 17:42 authored by Peter Macreadie, TC Rolph, R Boyd, CJ Schröder-Adams, CG Skilbeck
Carbon cycling on the east coast of Australia has the potential to be strongly affected by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) intensification and coastal development (industrialization and urbanization). We performed paleoreconstructions of estuarine sediments from a seagrass-dominated estuary on the east coast of Australia (Tuggerah Lake, New South Wales) to test the hypothesis that millennial-scale ENSO intensification and European settlement in Australia have increased the transfer of organic carbon from land into coastal waters. Our data show that carbon accumulation rates within coastal sediments increased significantly during periods of maximum millennial-scale ENSO intensity ("super-ENSO") and coastal development. We suggest that ENSO and coastal development destabilize and liberate terrestrial soil carbon, which, during rainfall events (e.g., La Niña), washes into estuaries and becomes trapped and buried by coastal vegetation (seagrass in this case). Indeed, periods of high carbon burial were generally characterized as having rapid sedimentation rates, higher content of fine-grained sediments, and increased content of wood and charcoal fragments. These results, though preliminary, suggest that coastal development and ENSO intensificationboth of which are predicted to increase over the coming centurycan enhance capture and burial of terrestrial carbon by coastal ecosystems. These findings have important relevance for current efforts to build an understanding of terrestrial- marine carbon connectivity into global carbon budgets.

History

Journal

PLoS ONE

Volume

10

Article number

ARTN e0145136

Location

United States

Open access

  • Yes

ISSN

1932-6203

eISSN

1932-6203

Language

English

Publication classification

C Journal article, C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, The Authors

Issue

12

Publisher

PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE