The Noble Sea Sponge and its Role in Global Carbon Cycling

Global cycling of chemicals and nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and silicon (Si) drive one of the most important biological processes on our planet, primary production and the removal of carbon from our atmosphere. What happens when the largest carbon and silicon sink isn’t actually as big as scientists originally thought? Chemical oceanographers Manuel Maldonado and his colleagues have come up with a new way to study the oceans most important chemical cycles and the surprisingly important role of the simple sea sponge.

Read more

We need to talk about the elephant in the carbon budget

In order to create a carbon budget, we need to identify everything that is taking carbon in and out of the atmosphere. While we have a pretty good idea of the important processes, could we be missing another “big” piece of the puzzle? In this study, scientists try to figure out if elephants are having an impact on the carbon cycle where they live.

Read more

Growing Conditions Improve with a Pinch

Salt marshes are full of crustacean inhabitants. In particular, fiddler crabs and purple marsh crabs of New England modify these coastal ecosystems by burrowing beneath the waterlogged soils, chewing up plants, and increasing nutrient exchange rates. But it is uncertain to what extent each species contributes to the modification of a salt marsh. Research by Alexandria Moore found the presence of crabs had a significant effect on multiple aspects of salt marsh health and that the herbivore, purple marsh crab, modifies salt marsh ecosystems beyond eating plants.

Read more

Your resolution to eat healthy is saving the earth (more than you realize)

How much energy went into your last meal? According to a recent study, probably way more than you think. Food is responsible for 20-30% of global carbon emissions, but most people are terrible at judging the environmental cost of what they eat. Why is this? And what can we do?

Read more

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Satellites have changed our ability to see the globe. We can now use satellite data is to monitor change in the amount of land covered by forests, and determine the reasons for that change. In this article, we discuss recent findings global forest monitoring and the impact of supply chain decisions by corporate actors.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more