Sea level controls carbon accumulation in the Everglades



How much carbon is stored in the organic soils of tropical wetlands is becoming an important question as erosion, agriculture, and global climate change slowly set into motion a series of processes that could potentially release carbon locked up in these wetlands. In a recent study, Glaser et al. reconstructed a complete, carbon-14 dated 4000-year history of both organic and inorganic matter accumulation in the Everglades of south Florida. The authors found that despite the fact that erosion, fires, and similar processes may have removed as much as 2 meters of soil from the Everglades, there is a remarkable consistency in the accumulation rates of both organic and inorganic matter in the Everglades over the past 4000 years. They speculate that processes such as sea level rise that operate on time scales of centuries or even millennia may be ultimately controlling the rates of formation and accumulation of organic matter in the Everglades.