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MIT Sea Grant Develops New Water Quality Monitoring Technology

Understanding carbon cycling in coastal habitats is critical for understanding global carbon budgets and opportunities for climate change mitigation. At the interface between oceanic and terrestrial environments, blue carbon systems, such as salt marshes, sequester large amounts of carbon via productivity and sedimentation. A factor that can offset this carbon sequestration is the outwelling of carbon to adjacent ecosystems. MIT Sea Grant created three environmental sensing buoys that continuously measure vital coastal parameters including temperature, salinity, chlorophyll fluorescence, CDOM (Colored Dissolved Organic Matter) fluorescence, optical backscatter, wind speed and direction, light (as photosynthetically active radiation), air temperature, and relative humidity. Using data from those buoys and 12 years of transect data they were able to estimate the total outwelling of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) using high-resolution in situ chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) as a proxy for the Neponset Salt Marsh in Boston, Massachusetts.

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