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Methane dynamics described through vegetation-soil interactions in bald cypress and other bottomland hardwood forests

Active Dates 8/15/2021-8/31/2024
Program Area Environmental Systems Science
Project Description
Natural wetland methane (CH4) fluxes play an important role in global climate change as CH4 is one of the major greenhouse gases. Our current understanding of the response of natural wetlands, particularly mineral soil wetland CH4 fluxes to climate change is still uncertain leading to large uncertainties in the global CH4 budget. While the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley has experienced the largest loss of forested wetlands in the U.S, supporting 21 to 25 million acres of bottomland hardwoods before European settlement, an estimated 5 million acres remain. This landscape remains under-studied from a CH4 flux perspective, particularly in determining woody vegetation contributions to landscape CH4 emissions.
Our overarching objective are (1) to improve our understanding of the controls on CH4 fluxes in forested mineral soil wetlands, and (2) to better understand the effects of landscape position and forest composition on the CH4 fluxes between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere. Our main goal is to elucidate the dynamics of CH4 fluxes within forested wetland ecosystems to improve regional predictions in response to climate change and shifting hydrological oscillation patterns. Using a coupled modeling-experimental (ModEX) approach, our main scientific goal is to investigate the spatial and temporal carbon dynamics of a temperate bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), mineral soil wetland and an adjacent bottomland hardwood stand using a suite of measurements including new soil and tree (i.e., stem and “knee”) methane (CH4) flux observations.
This proposal is therefore based on the premise that understanding methane fluxes in a temperate, forested wetland will advance mechanistic and model-ready science across a wide range of terrestrial-aquatic interface processes. The proposed processes and model modification will help to simulate the adapataiton of wetland ecosystems to a changing climate through better representations of the soil-vegetation interactions. By improving our understanding and modeling of CH4 processes at bald cypress swamp, this work aims to make significant contribution to two key sciences question in DOE objectives: (1) New or improved understanding of environmental controls and ecological processes in hydrologically oscillating zone on CH4 fluxes; and (2) Collection of new CH4 measurements.
Award Recipient(s)
  • Murray State University (PI: ElMasri, Bassil)