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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-93
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-93
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 15 Apr 2019

Research article | 15 Apr 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Warming enhances carbon dioxide and methane fluxes from Red Sea seagrass (Halophila stipulacea) sediments

Celina Burkholz, Neus Garcias-Bonet, and Carlos M. Duarte Celina Burkholz et al.
  • Red Sea Research Center (RSRC) and Computational Bioscience Research Center (CBRC), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal 23955, Saudi Arabia

Abstract. Seagrass meadows are autotrophic ecosystems storing carbon in their biomass and sediments, but they have also been shown to be sources of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). Seagrasses can be negatively affected by increasing seawater temperatures, but the effects of warming on CO2 and CH4 fluxes in seagrass meadows have not yet been reported. Here, we examine the effect of two disturbances on air-seawater fluxes of CO2 and CH4 in Red Sea Halophila stipulacea communities compared to adjacent unvegetated sediments using cavity ring-down spectroscopy. We first characterized CO2 and CH4 fluxes in vegetated and adjacent unvegetated sediments, and then experimentally examined their response, along with that of the C isotopic signature of CO2 and CH4, to gradual warming from 25 °C (winter seawater temperature) to 37 °C, 2 °C above current maximum temperature. In addition, we assessed the response to prolonged darkness, thereby providing insights into the possible role of suppressing plant photosynthesis in supporting CO2 and CH4 fluxes. We detected distinct differences between vegetated and unvegetated sediments, with the vegetated sediments supporting 6-fold higher CO2 fluxes, and 10- to 100-fold higher CH4 fluxes. Warming led to an increase in net CO2 and CH4 fluxes, reaching average fluxes of 10,422.18 ± 2,570.12 µmol CO2 m−2 d−1 and 88.11 ± 15.19 µmol CH4 m−2 d−1, while CO2 and CH4 fluxes decreased over time in sediments maintained at 25 °C. Prolonged darkness led to an increase in CO2 fluxes but a decrease in CH4 fluxes in vegetated sediments. These results add to previous research identifying Red Sea seagrass meadows as a significant source of CH4, while also indicating that sublethal warming may lead to increased emissions of greenhouse gases from seagrass meadows, providing a feedback mechanism that may contribute to further enhance global warming.

Celina Burkholz et al.
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Celina Burkholz et al.
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Short summary
Seagrass meadows store carbon in their biomass and sediments, but they have also been shown to be sources of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). We experimentally investigated the effect of warming and prolonged darkness on CO2 and CH4CH4. Our results indicated that sublethal warming may lead to increased emissions of greenhouse gases from seagrass meadows which may contribute to further enhance global warming.
Seagrass meadows store carbon in their biomass and sediments, but they have also been shown to...
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