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LSU Research Team Examines Blue Carbon Capacity of Louisiana Marshes with Implications for Restoration

Some 40 percent of the nation’s coastal marshes reside in Louisiana. These wetland habitats are vital to the state’s economy, ecology and resilience. Their importance as blue carbon sinks has additional benefit for the global economy, but there has been little study of how and where Louisiana marshes’ store their carbon. For the past few years, Louisiana Sea Grant supported researchers at Louisiana State University have studied the blue carbon capacity of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Blue carbon is carbon that is being stored long term in marine ecosystems like mangroves, coastal wetlands, tidal marshes, salt marshes and seagrass beds. By being sequestered, this carbon is not currently adding to climate change. Close examination of salt marshes has led to some interesting findings. First, a marsh’s ability to store carbon is not equal nor uniform. One of the main marsh features contributing to greater carbon storage is the density of the vegetation. Additionally, the researchers discovered which conditions are necessary to promote these high-density species: relatively low nutrient availability and higher elevations. This research has obvious implications for Louisiana and its future. With billions of dollars earmarked for marsh creation, it’s of vital importance to know how to build sustainable marshes.

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