Using instrumented towers to measure CO2 exchanges in Plum Island marshes

February 19th, 2015 @   - 

A major focus of research at the Plum Island Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research site is to determine whether salt marshes can survive rapid changes in climate, land-use, and sea level.

A shadow of two researchers on an instrument tower used to measure carbon dioxide exchange between the marsh and the atmosphere falls across a Plum Island Estuary marsh in early spring.

A shadow of two researchers on an instrument tower used to measure carbon dioxide exchange between the marsh and the atmosphere falls across a Plum Island Estuary marsh in early spring.

The persistence of salt marshes, and the ecosystem services they provide, depends upon their ability to keep up with sea-level rise. Marshes may do this by accreting inorganic sediment, and by accumulating carbon as plant material. PIE scientists are carrying out detailed studies of the carbon budget using instruments mounted on towers to measure the exchange of carbon dioxide between the marsh and the atmosphere, and by measuring tidal exchanges of carbon and inorganic sediments. Additional studies monitor sediment accretion on the marsh surface, and examine how salt marsh grasses respond to nutrient inputs and water levels.

PIE scientists work closely with governmental and private organizations to implement policies that will help protect the marsh in the face of rising sea-levels and human development. K-12 education programs focus on hands-on activities for students that include contributing to a long-term data base monitoring the impact of marsh restoration activities.

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