Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environmental Engineering and Earth Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Kelly Best Lazar

Committee Member

Dr. Alex Pullen

Committee Member

Dr. Cindy Lee

Committee Member

Dr. Timothy DeVol


Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have been increasing at an accelerating rate for the past two centuries, profoundly impacting global climate change. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are influenced by the global carbon cycle through physical and biogeochemical pathways. Tidal wetland environments play a vital role in the global carbon cycle by offsetting atmospheric CO2 concentrations through their natural physiochemical processes of high autotrophic productivity, allochthonous organic matter deposition, anoxic soils, and continuous accretion which promotes carbon sequestration with long-term storage at the land-ocean margin. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) identify tidal wetlands to be important environments for regulating atmospheric CO2 concentrations; however, these climate research governing bodies also identify current CO2 flux datasets from tidal wetlands to be lacking expansive spatial and temporal monitoring. Furthermore, the role of hurricane disturbances on the productivity of CO2 flux and carbon storage in tidal wetlands lacks scientific consensus.

This work produced a low-cost innovative CO2 flux monitoring method and a unique continuous long-term dataset to yield insight into tidal wetlands’ role in the carbon-climate feedback. Four key investigations of CO2 flux in tidal wetlands were undertaken which included (1) the development and successful deployment of a low-cost, continuous long-term CO2 flux monitoring method in a dynamic intertidal zone, (2) insight into near-annual CO2 sequestration of 9.4 µmol m-2 s-1 in the North Inlet-Winyah Bay (NI-WB) tidal wetland system of SC and how the environmental conditions correlated to the CO2 flux over the sampling period (August 2022 – May 2022), (3) a temporal determination of the 2022 Hurricane Ian’s influence on CO2 flux in the NI-WB tidal wetlands; with sequestration pre- and during-Hurricane Ian and net emission post-Hurricane Ian, and (4) an identification of varying carbon accumulation rates (15.2-120.6 gC m-2 yr-1) in NI-WB with historical correlation of high-energy deposits and carbon storage capacity.

The widespread adoption of the innovative CO2 flux monitoring methodology presented within this dissertation and the continued identification of carbon storage via sediment cores in global tidal wetlands will produce a comprehensive synthesis of the role tidal wetlands play in carbon-climate feedback. The successful investigation of tidal wetlands’ role in carbon-climate feedback will assist in refining ESM predictions of global climate change projections to ultimately inform tidal wetland management practices and climate policy.

Author ORCID Identifier




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