Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2022, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (4): 373-382.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2021.0264

• Review •     Next Articles

Blue carbon sink function, formation mechanism and sequestration potential of coastal salt marshes

HAN Guang-Xuan1,2,*(), WANG Fa-Ming3, MA Jun4, XIAO Lei-Lei1, CHU Xiao-Jing1,2, ZHAO Ming-Liang1,2   

  1. 1CAS Key Laboratory of Coastal Environmental Processes and Ecological Remediation, Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yantai, Shandong 264003, China
    2Yellow River Delta Field Observation and Research Station of Coastal Wetland Ecosystem, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dongying, Shandong 257000, China
    3Xiaoliang Research Station for Tropical Coastal Ecosystems, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
    4Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Ecological Engineering, Fudan University, Ministry of Education, Shanghai 200438, China
  • Received:2021-07-14 Accepted:2021-11-08 Online:2022-04-20 Published:2021-12-16
  • Contact: HAN Guang-Xuan
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(U2106209);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42071126)


Owing to the high carbon capture and storage capacity, salt marshes are considered an effective blue carbon sink for mitigating global warming. In addition, salt marshes are likely to increase their carbon sink capacity in the future in response to climate warming and sea level rise. Therefore, the blue carbon sink function of salt marshes has received increasing attention from the international research community. This study reviewed the five aspects comprising the key processes of blue carbon formation, photosynthetic carbon allocation, burial fluxes and sources of sedimentary organic carbon, stability of soil carbon pools and the associated microbial mechanisms, and the simulation and assessment of blue carbon sequestration potentials in salt marshes. On this basis, concerning the main knowledge gaps, this paper proposes further research on the effect of vegetation distribution pattern along the land-to-sea hydrologic gradient on photosynthetic carbon fixation and allocation, the response of soil organic carbon deposition and burial to global change, the stability of soil carbon pools and its lateral exchange, blue carbon simulation and assessment of blue carbon sink potential in the context of climate change and sea level rise, and technologies and approaches of blue carbon sequestration in salt marshes. Prioritizing these research topics may elucidate the formation processes and mechanisms of blue carbon, predict the changing trend of blue carbon sequestration potential under global changes, and offer new insights into achieving the goal of “carbon peak and carbon neutrality”.

Key words: salt marsh, blue carbon, photosynthetic carbon allocation, sedimentary and burial, organic carbon stabilization, sequestration potential