Faculty Publications


Organic carbon burial rates in mangrove sediments: Strengthening the global budget.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Joseph M. Smoak

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

January 2012

Date Available

November 2013




Mangrove wetlands exist in the transition zone between terrestrial and marine environments and as such were historically overlooked in discussions of terrestrial and marine carbon cycling. In recent decades, mangroves have increasingly been credited with producing and burying large quantities of organic carbon (OC). The amount of available data regarding OC burial in mangrove soils has more than doubled since the last primary literature review (2003). This includes data from some of the largest, most developed mangrove forests in the world, providing an opportunity to strengthen the global estimate. First-time representation is now included for mangroves in Brazil, Colombia, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand, along with additional data from Mexico and the United States. Our objective is to recalculate the centennial-scale burial rate of OC at both the local and global scales. Quantification of this rate enables better understanding of the current carbon sink capacity of mangroves as well as helps to quantify and/or validate the other aspects of the mangrove carbon budget such as import, export, and remineralization. Statistical analysis of the data supports use of the geometric mean as the most reliable central tendency measurement. Our estimate is that mangrove systems bury 163 (+40; -31) g OC m(-2) yr(-1) (95% C.I.). Globally, the 95% confidence interval for the annual burial rate is 26.1 (+6.3; -5.1) Tg OC. This equates to a burial fraction that is 42% larger than that of the most recent mangrove carbon budget (2008), and represents 10-15% of estimated annual mangrove production. This global rate supports previous conclusions that, on a centennial time scale, 8-15% of all OC burial in marine settings occurs in mangrove systems.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 26(3), 1-11. DOI: 10.1029/2012GB004375 Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.