In order to support broader inclusion of blue carbon in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Climate Change Scoping Plan, this short report provides an overview of available coastal wetland datasets, methods, and scenario planning considerations. This report offers information and guidance on wetland mapping resources, greenhouse gas (GHG) and carbon accumulation data, and considerations regarding wetland vulnerability and resilience to sea-level rise, as well as specific suggestions for Scoping Plan scenarios. Together, this information is intended to (a) enable CARB to move forward with adding an 8th blue carbon NWL type to the Scoping Plan scenarios given existing information and available methods, and (b) highlight key focus areas where additional science investment would meaningfully improve existing scenario analysis methods, offering a roadmap to broader inclusion of California’s coastal wetlands in future state-level climate planning. 

Major Findings 

  1. Building on current Delta-only Scoping Plan scenarios, sufficient information exists to incorporate an additional 57,000 acres of blue carbon ecosystems outside the Delta into the CARB Scoping Plan and other state and regional climate planning efforts.
  2. These currently unaccounted for coastal wetlands in California sequester an estimated 20,000 MT carbon annually in tidal wetland and eelgrass sediments. 
  3. Including saline tidal wetlands and eelgrass in the Scoping Plan scenarios would increase the extent of existing wetlands by nearly 70% over the current Delta-only scenarios.
  4. Adding 18,000 acres of saline tidal wetland and 3,000 acres of eelgrass restoration in San Francisco Bay to the Scoping Plan proposed scenario would increase total wetland GHG benefits by 27,000 MT CO2e per year.
  5. Conserving existing coastal wetlands, in addition to restoring new ones, is critical for both climate protection and other services to people .
  6. Blue carbon ecosystems can contribute meaningfully to California’s climate goals even in their limited spatial footprint, given high rates of carbon accumulation and low rates of methane emissions in saline coastal wetlands. 
  7. Coastal wetlands offer numerous benefits in addition to climate regulation, which should be accounted for in climate resilience planning at state and regional levels. 
  8. Investment in repeat mapping efforts and biogeochemical data collection would improve the precision and scope of future blue carbon quantification.

 

The report released in July 2022 was prepared for the California Air Resources Board. Support for this project was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The views expressed within the report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Dates: 
2021 to 2022
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Resilient Landscapes Program
Delta Science & Management
Location Information