Microbes, marshes, and mangroves: Implications for coastal carbon storage

Salt marshes and mangroves are coastal ecosystems known to store excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus helping to reduce negative consequences of climate change. Despite their importance, the relative distribution of marshes and mangroves is changing due to increasing temperatures and sea level rise. It is unclear, though, what these shifts mean for carbon storage. Since microorganisms are crucial in soil carbon cycling, we need to better understand how they function in response to whether marshes or mangroves dominate. A research team in Florida set out to address this question, finding significant changes to the microbial community.

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Watching Grass Grow from Space: NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 Satellite Gives Insights into Photosynthesis and Climate Change

The mission of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite is to improve our understanding of the factors that control global carbon dioxide levels. The satellite was designed to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide, but it can also detect a signal of plant photosynthesis — a key carbon sink. NASA scientists are working to use these two pieces of information together to disentangle natural and human influences on the carbon cycle.

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Rejuvenating Agricultural Soils

Soils play an important role in the global carbon cycle because they can absorb carbon from and emit carbon into the atmosphere. Currently, agricultural soils are not home to very large carbon pools. Recent research investigated the effects of adding carbonized crop residue to soils in agricultural environments in the hopes of finding ways to increase the amount of carbon retained by these soils.

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Are we headed for a sixth mass extinction?

A mass extinction is an event in which the world very rapidly loses a large number of its living species. You’ve probably heard of the mass extinction that occurred sixty-five million years ago, when an asteroid crashed near Mexico and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. There have been four other mass extinctions in the last 500 million years, and each has resulted in the loss of at least 60% of living species. In a recent study, Professor Daniel Rothman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argues that human activities – specifically our inundating the atmosphere with carbon – may result in a sixth mass extinction.

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Inundate and Chill: The Fate of Microbes in Submarine Permafrost

Permafrost stores a lot of carbon, which is important in terms of climate change. However, as sea levels rise, permafrost can get covered up with water, which is a big change for the microbes that live in the permafrost. Depending on what the microbes in the permafrost are doing, the permafrost has the potential to start releasing that carbon that was previously stored. Scientists recently set out to find out what happens inside the permafrost when it ends up under the ocean, which can tell us more about the past and future of our planet.

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