Coastal vegetation and estuaries are collectively a greenhouse gas sink

Judith A. Rosentreter, Goulven G. Laruelle, Hermann W. Bange, Thomas S. Bianchi, Julius J.M. Busecke, Wei Jun Cai, Bradley D. Eyre, Inke Forbrich, Eun Young Kwon, Taylor Maavara, Nils Moosdorf, Raymond G. Najjar, V. V.S.S. Sarma, Bryce Van Dam, Pierre Regnier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Coastal ecosystems release or absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), but the net effects of these ecosystems on the radiative balance remain unknown. We compiled a dataset of observations from 738 sites from studies published between 1975 and 2020 to quantify CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes in estuaries and coastal vegetation in ten global regions. We show that the CO2-equivalent (CO2e) uptake by coastal vegetation is decreased by 23–27% due to estuarine CO2e outgassing, resulting in a global median net sink of 391 or 444 TgCO2e yr−1 using the 20- or 100-year global warming potentials, respectively. Globally, total coastal CH4 and N2O emissions decrease the coastal CO2 sink by 9–20%. Southeast Asia, North America and Africa are critical regional hotspots of GHG sinks. Understanding these hotspots can guide our efforts to strengthen coastal CO2 uptake while effectively reducing CH4 and N2O emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-587
Number of pages9
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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