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    Increase of organic carbon burial response to mangrove expansion in the Nanliu River estuary, South China Sea

    Tao Liu, Shengfa Liu, Bin Wu, Huipeng Xu, Hui Zhang

    Climate change, Mangrove, Accumulation rate, Organic carbon burial, South China Sea

    Due to high productivity, periodic submersion, and rapid sedimentation rate, mangroves are important carbon sinks in tropical-subtropical coastal zones. Mangrove expansion can significantly enhance burial carbon storage in coastal zones and has been reported in many subtropical regions due to climate change in recent years. To better understand the response of carbon storage to climate change in subtropical-tropical coastal zones, it is necessary to estimate the change in burial organic carbon (OC) storage in mangroves undergoing expansion. In the Nanliu River estuary of South China, the total mangrove area has increased from 72 to 622 ha in recent decades. Based on a sedimentology study combined with historical satellite images analysis, the accumulation rate of burial OC in these mangroves is estimated to be 400–500 g‧m−2‧y−1, of which the part imported to the stratigraphy beneath the mangrove deposit layer is approximately 130 g‧m−2‧y−1. Globally, the reported OC accumulation rate is linearly correlated to the accretion rate in mangroves. The accumulation rate of mangrove burial OC estimated in this study is significantly higher than the corresponding value on this fitted curve, indicating that the OC accumulation rates may be underestimated in such mangroves because the OC imported to the lower root layer has been not been taken into account. Based on the estimated OC accumulation rate and the time-series data of the mangrove area, the increase in burial OC storage in the mangroves of the Nanliu River estuary from 1988 to 2018 is estimated at more than 35 Gg. This study provides an example of estimating soil OC storage increase in expanding mangroves, which can help us better understand the response of coastal carbon pool to climate change.