Research Highlight: IRIS Affiliate Sonny Kim develops a new system to monitor carbon in salt marshes

Article by Mike Wooten, first published on News, College of Engineering

Coastal salt marshes play an oversized role in regulating the planet’s climate thanks to their ability absorb massive amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. While they occupy less than 2% of the ocean surface, scientists estimate coastal marshes and wetlands store nearly half of the total carbon buried in marine sediments.

Despite the importance of salt marshes, data on their ability to store carbon is incomplete because the work is labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive. Now, researchers at the University of Georgia are taking a new approach that promises a more comprehensive assessment of carbon sequestration in the state’s salt marshes.

“Coastal salt marshes protect us from hurricanes and floods and provide critical habitats for fish, shellfish, and bird nurseries,” said S. Sonny Kim, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Engineering and the project’s lead investigator. “But salt marshes face multiple threats, including sea-level rise which could dramatically reduce the amount of carbon stored in these vital ecosystems. Understanding the amount of carbon stored in soils is critical to understanding salt marsh vulnerability.”

Read the full article here.