|Great Marsh, Melting Snow Sketch 2014 Katherine Kean|
charcoal 8 x 10 inches
Another drawing of the marsh at dusk in the winter as the snow melts.
Not just beautiful to gaze upon, marshes are valuable for many reasons. I find encouragement in the findings of this research:
Salt marshes may help slow the rate of climate change in the future, as rising and warmer oceans will enable them to more quickly capture and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a study published in the journal Nature: Salt Marshes May Slow Climate Warming . . . For A While.
“Our research suggests that the value of these ecosystems in capturing atmospheric carbon might become much more important in the future, as the climate warms,” said Matthew Kirwan, a University of Virginia environmental scientist, and the lead author of the USGS-funded and supported research.
Salt marshes store enormous quantities of carbon, essential to plant productivity, by, in essence, breathing in the atmospheric carbon and then using it to grow, flourish and increase the height of the soil. Even as the grasses die, the carbon remains trapped in the sediment. The researchers’ model predicts that under faster sea-level rise rates, salt marshes could bury up to four times as much carbon as they do now.
“One of the cool things about salt marshes is that they are perhaps the best example of an ecosystem that actually depends on carbon accumulation to survive climate change: The accumulation of roots in the soil builds their elevation, keeping the plants above the water,” Kirwan said.