Symposium: Wetland soils & carbon
1:30 PM - 5:00 PM Wed
Title: The carbon cycle and climate change mitigation potential of freshwater wetlands
Abstract: Wetland ecosystems are one of the largest global carbon sinks holding approximately 30% of the estimated 1,500 Pg (10^15 g) of global soil carbon, despite occupying only 5-8% of its land surface. More than half of the historical wetland area in the U.S. has been lost due to human activities (e.g., drainage) with the loss of up to 90% in midwestern agricultural states. The result has been the net transfer of carbon from wetland soils to the atmosphere. The management and conservation of wetland carbon requires an understanding of the carbon cycle, and how carbon stocks and fluxes change over time and space. Here, wetland carbon dynamics are discussed, including storage, sequestration, primary productivity, and the flux of the greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), as is the flux of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). Because management decisions affect the wetland carbon cycle, efforts to protect climate should address the role of wetlands as climate regulators and include measures for the conservation and sustainable management of their carbon stocks.
Bio: Siobhan Fennessy is the Jordan Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology at Kenyon College. She's an ecosystem ecologist studying the response of wetland biogeochemical cycles to human disturbance and how degraded wetlands can be restored. She serves as a scientific expert for the Ramsar Convention and recently held a Fulbright Fellowship working on carbon dynamics in Mediterranean wetlands.