Wetlands hold the key to cutting emissions

November 29, 2018 by Evelyn S. Gonzalez, Florida International University
Credit: Florida International University

A team of scientists has identified more ways to mitigate climate change.

Restoring , rewetting drained soils, preventing erosion and reconnecting wetlands to exchange with saltwater can reduce more greenhouse gas emissions if done together, according to their report.

"Coastal management activities like watershed alterations and oil and have resulted in large sources of greenhouse gas emissions," said Tiffany Troxler, co-author of the report and director of science in the Sea Level Solutions Center at Florida International University. "Coastal wetland restoration is a win-win solution for both mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and protecting coastal economies."

In 2013, Troxler helped lead a successful effort to add coastal wetland management to national greenhouse gas reporting as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The UNFCC is an international environmental treaty dedicated to stabilizing in the atmosphere. This gave policymakers a new tool for reducing emissions through wetland restoration and other coastal wetland management activities.

Healthy coastal wetlands trap harmful greenhouse gases that otherwise end up in the atmosphere and speed up . They also help protect communities from floods and storms, improve water quality, and support recreational and commercial fisheries. Despite protections and regulations, the United States continues to lose its coastal wetlands to development.

"It's only been in recent years that we've been able to truly recognize the important role wetlands play in sequestering carbon and , but we've also learned that they need to remain healthy and intact to continue providing that benefit," said Ariana Sutton-Grier, co-author of the report and director of science for the Maryland/DC Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. "That's why acquiring a widespread assessment of our existing wetlands has become critically important, especially as we're still losing wetlands on a global scale."

The report was a collaboration among FIU, Silvestrum Climate Associates, University of Maryland, NOAA, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and The Nature Conservancy. It was recently published in Nature Climate Change.

Explore further: Report calls for more science to negate CO2 emissions

More information: Stephen Crooks et al. Coastal wetland management as a contribution to the US National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Nature Climate Change (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0345-0

Related Stories

Report calls for more science to negate CO2 emissions

October 26, 2018

Technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the air must play a major role in mitigating climate change, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Wetlands disappearing three times faster than forests: study

September 27, 2018

Wetlands, among the world's most valuable and biodiverse ecosystems, are disappearing at alarming speed amid urbanisation and agriculture shifts, conservationists said Thursday, calling for urgent action to halt the erosion.

Recommended for you

The long dry: global water supplies are shrinking

December 13, 2018

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like ...

New climate model to be built from the ground up

December 13, 2018

Facing the certainty of a changing climate coupled with the uncertainty that remains in predictions of how it will change, scientists and engineers from across the country are teaming up to build a new type of climate model ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

guptm
not rated yet Nov 29, 2018
Maintaining coastal wetlands is challenging as global change has impacted this fragile ecosystem too. But, it's protection and management is an excellent way to combat further impact of GHG emissions.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.