Down Deep in Carbon!
Meagan Gonneea, Mendenhall Postdoc, and Kelly Sanks, intern with the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT), are deep in a wetland vegetated by a tall wetland reed known as phragmites. They are looking for a good location to collect a sediment core. This phragmites wetland was once a salt marsh, but transportation infrastructure built in the early 20th century restricted tidal flow, and phragmites moved in. Salt marshes have very high rates of carbon storage and contribute to removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. For her NAGT internship, Kelly studied the rate of carbon burial in natural salt marshes, restricted marshes and restored marshes, to determine the rates at which salt marshes can regain their high capacity to bury carbon in peat soils once their connection to tidal waters is restored. This information helps us manage many of the important ecosystem services provided by our coastal wetlands.