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Wetlands Rising

Wetlands



We've all heard about rising carbon dioxide levels. It's a major contributor to global warming.

Now scientists say more CO2 may -- ironically -- benefit one struggling ecosystem: the world's wetlands.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Institution recently decided to study how rising CO2 levels might affect a marsh at their Maryland research center.

So they pumped carbon dioxide through buried pipes into the wetlands, to mimic how CO2 would collect there.

They got some interesting results.

Seems the CO2 stimulated plant growth underground -- where most plant growth happens in marshes. The growth of roots and other organic matter led to a modest but measurable two millimeter rise in soil elevation.

That's important. Wetlands must continually build up their soil in order to maintain elevation. If they don't, the water that feeds them takes over, and wetlands drown: They disappear. That means a loss for wildlife that depends on wetlands, and for human endeavors, like fishing.

Rising CO2 levels still pose ominous problems. But with global warming expected to start raising sea levels worldwide, the new finding sheds light on how wetlands will react to climate change, and could lead to ways to help save them.

Script by Gail Davis

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