Print 13 comment(s) - last by Radnor.. on Aug 22 at 9:03 AM

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is heavily farmed, which has involved the destruction of miles of wetland. A new project seeks to utilize unused farmland to regrow wetlands, in order to possibly sequester greenhouse gases and negate farming emissions.
The US Geological Survey tests out whether artificial wetlands are really such a good idea

Whether you agree or disagree with the premise that man can and should impact global warming, it has become a reality of the world economy.  From carbon credits to ambitious alternative energy adoption plans, the world's nations are banding together to try to stop climate change -- a tall order.

One of the hottest ideas in climate science is the concept of carbon sequestration.  As children, many of us shoveled the contents of a messy room under our beds, when cleaning was demanded.  Ironically this universal thought could be applied to atmospheric carbon to remove it from the atmosphere and stop global warming.

What can be used to fix carbon into the ground and keep it there?  Ideas vary wildly.  Some prefer manmade setups such as carbon fixing plants, or even using sand to sink carbon into the oceans as carbonic acid.  However, one of the most popular thoughts is to fix carbon into the earth in the form of plant life.

By growing dense plant life in areas that previously contained only lighter growth, carbon can be fixed into the ground.  Assuming the dense growth is sustained, this method of sinking has the potential to be semi-permanent.

Along these lines researchers with the US Geological Survey and UC Davis are testing out wetlands as a potential carbon sink.  The project will take place in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in California.  The project will aim to rebuild the areas wetlands.  In the process it will recreate the rich peat soils that store far more carbon than the area currently holds.

Thanks to a $12.3M USD grant from the California Department of Water Resources, the project is restoring 400 acres of land to swamp.  California's DWR was inspired to fund the project based on initial tests in the Delta which indicated that the project could bury up to 25 metric tons of CO2 each year per acre.

Interestingly the project is its own worst critic in many respects.  While the participants are encouraged by the strong initial tests, they're approaching the concept of swamped based sequestration wary of several pitfalls.  First, they fear the wetlands could potentially release nitrous oxide and methane, far more effective greenhouse gases.  They say this could negate or even worsen warming impact.

Secondly, the wetlands could yield methylmercury, a neurotoxin to mammals.  Methylmercury, abundant in many freshwater lakes can become a potent toxin when concentrated in lake fish.  The risk largely depends on whether people eat fish from the areas surrounding the swamps.

While the project leaders are approaching the project cautiously, they are optimistic.  Roger Fujii, Bay-Delta program chief for the USGS California Water Science Center states, "This project is an investment in California's future that could reap multiple benefits over several decades - for California, the nation and the world."

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Love it
By FITCamaro on 8/19/2008 8:08:27 AM , Rating: 4
Grow wetlands. Potentially cause warming. Burn gas. Potentially cause warming. Raise cattle. Potentially cause warming.

Is there anything that doesn't supposedly lead to potential "climate change" anymore? Hell even the stuff the environmentalists have told everyone to do supposedly might cause warming these days. How about they all just shut up and let us live our lives.

The only hot air being caused here is that which is coming out of environmentalists mouths.

RE: Love it
By Master Kenobi on 8/19/2008 8:15:28 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Love it
By Radnor on 8/22/2008 9:03:57 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, i just sneezed and you got downrated. Dam reflexes.

RE: Love it
By mdogs444 on 8/19/2008 8:46:10 AM , Rating: 2
Hear hear!

I'm really getting sick of their bloviating. Such utter nonsense.

RE: Love it
By bpurkapi on 8/19/2008 12:31:59 PM , Rating: 2
Remember the same goes for cancer too... Red meat causes cancer, alcohol causes cancer, cell phones cause cancer. The more knowledge that science uncovers, reminds me that the odds of living another day are not in my favor. Moderation is the most important thing, for example a glass of wine is good for you, a bottle is not. I think this applies to wetlands as well... We don't really need more wetlands, we need to protect remaining forests and remaining wetlands. Save what we have before we artificially create more.

RE: Love it
By Kenenniah on 8/19/2008 2:45:32 PM , Rating: 2
Well, my thinking on the cancer causing foods is that they are correct. I mean if you stop eating food and drinking fluids, chances are you won't die of cancer.

RE: Love it
By SilthDraeth on 8/21/2008 11:19:29 AM , Rating: 2
Brilliant Hypothesis. Now who should we test it out on?

RE: Love it
By DASQ on 8/19/2008 1:12:12 PM , Rating: 2
Now where did I put those methane prevention bovine buttplugs....

RE: Love it
By NEOCortex on 8/19/2008 2:39:00 PM , Rating: 2
Too true....

As someone who has lived around that area for a couple years, I can say that from a purely visual standpoint, it would be nice if they restored more of the natural beauty of the river delta in some areas.

However, wetlands/marshes will definitely increase the mosquito population in the Sacramento area, which is already pretty bad.

Besides, doesn't continually growing and harvesting crops provide plenty of carbon sequestration already?

RE: Love it
By Schrag4 on 8/19/2008 4:27:23 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think continually growing and harvesting crops provides any carbon sequestration (or another way to think of it is that it's incredibly brief). Someone with a little more knowledge please step in.

Here's why I think they chose wetlands. According to a show that I watched on the Discover or History channel a couple of months ago, wetlands prevent plant material from decaying (and releasing carbon). So any vegitation that grows there will, when it dies (or when leaves fall off), become part of a carbon-rich layer of really mucky soil (which, over millions of years if the process continues, would become oil underground).

RE: Love it
By masher2 on 8/19/2008 4:51:15 PM , Rating: 2
> "However, wetlands/marshes will definitely increase the mosquito population in the Sacramento area, which is already pretty bad."

That's a strong negative of course. Many people don't realize that for centuries, malaria was the quintessential disease of the American South. It wasn't until we drained the swamps of Florida and southern Alabama that we conquered it. We also created millions of acres of new, useful land from what was otherwise entirely useless terrain.

I'm truly saddened to see us moving backwards on this front.

RE: Love it
By Ringold on 8/20/2008 1:43:20 AM , Rating: 2
Is there anything that doesn't supposedly lead to potential "climate change" anymore?

After seeing an environmentalist page, I think via Earth First, on how to have "green sex," I'm reminded of what they considered the most dire environmental consequence of all: actually becoming pregnant.

Therefore, I would imagine these types would answer your question "Yes, Camaro. Abortion!"

By kattanna on 8/20/2008 4:59:57 PM , Rating: 2
wasnt the original reason a couple years ago to help control flooding?

now, suddenly since its the COOL thing to do, its to help combat global warming?

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki