Lead


Lay summary
LeadWetlands play an important role in the global carbon cycle as one of the main terrestrial carbon pools. We reconstructed spatial development of wetlands in Switzerland since 1700 and analyzed major processes driving their widespread elimination.BackgroundWetlands are an important pool for soil organic carbon and the change in extent and quality of wetlands leaves deep imprints on the carbon budget. Information on the long-term history of wetlands is therefore highly relevant for assessing long-term changes in (e.g. national) C pools. Information on the historical distribution and extent of wetlands is a crucial element for evaluating the potential for wetland restoration. Restoring wetlands is gaining increasing attention in the search for additional C sinks, as restored and growing wetlands sequester C for very long times. In Switzerland however, unlike in other parts of the world, the history of wetlands so far has not been studied consistently. Aim We intended to reconstruct the history of wetlands in Switzerland since 1700. The approach encompasses spatially explicit analysis of the development of wetlands based on historical sources (maps, statistical data, secondary literature), including the modeling of the potential maximal extent, the analyses of the major processes affecting wetlands, and a synthesis in which we asses the development of the C pool in wetlands.Relevance/Significance Information on the long-term history of wetlands is highly relevant for assessing long-term changes in (e.g. national) C pools. Information on the historical distribution and extent of wetlands will further be a crucial element for evaluating the potential for wetland restoration. Restoring wetlands is gaining increasing attention in the search for additional C sinks, as restored and growing wetlands sequester C for very long times.