Impact of climate change on wetland ecosystems: A critical review of experimental wetlands

Shokoufeh Salimi, Suhad A.A.A.N. Almuktar, Miklas Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Climate change is identified as a major threat to wetlands. Altered hydrology and rising temperature can change the biogeochemistry and function of a wetland to the degree that some important services might be turned into disservices. This means that they will, for example, no longer provide a water purification service and adversely they may start to decompose and release nutrients to the surface water. Moreover, a higher rate of decomposition than primary production (photosynthesis) may lead to a shift of their function from being a sink of carbon to a source. This review paper assesses the potential response of natural wetlands (peatlands) and constructed wetlands to climate change in terms of gas emission and nutrients release. In addition, the impact of key climatic factors such as temperature and water availability on wetlands has been reviewed. The authors identified the methodological gaps and weaknesses in the literature and then introduced a new framework for conducting a comprehensive mesocosm experiment to address the existing gaps in literature to support future climate change research on wetland ecosystems. In the future, higher temperatures resulting in drought might shift the role of both constructed wetland and peatland from a sink to a source of carbon. However, higher temperatures accompanied by more precipitation can promote photosynthesis to a degree that might exceed the respiration and maintain the carbon sink role of the wetland. There might be a critical water level at which the wetland can preserve most of its services. In order to find that level, a study of the key factors of climate change and their interactions using an appropriate experimental method is necessary. Some contradictory results of past experiments can be associated with different methodologies, designs, time periods, climates, and natural variability. Hence a long-term simulation of climate change for wetlands according to the proposed framework is recommended. This framework provides relatively more accurate and realistic simulations, valid comparative results, comprehensive understanding and supports coordination between researchers. This can help to find a sustainable management strategy for wetlands to be resilient to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112160
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Sciences
  • Ecology

Free keywords

  • Climate chamber
  • Constructed wetland
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Mesocosm experiment
  • Peatland
  • Wetland management


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