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Marshes combat climate change by storing carbon. Scientists want to know how much.


Student researchers plunge a pipe into marsh mud to collect a core sample. They’ll test it for carbon storage. (Emily Jones/WABE) This coverage is made possible through a partnership with WABE and Grist , a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions and a just future.

Early one morning in June, sporting bug spray and waterproof shoes, a research team waded out into a marsh about halfway between Savannah and Brunswick, on the edge of Blackbeard Creek. They didn’t have far to walk, but it was tough going. When the thick mud gets hold of something — like a foot — it doesn’t let go easily. Everyone sank in at some point, often past their knees.

The team navigated the deep muck so they could take samples of it with a big piece of PVC pipe. They pushed it into the mud, capped it to create a vacuum seal, then — battling the grip of the mud again — hauled it out again, collecting what’s called a core sample.

Back in the lab, they tested that sample for carbon.

Along with absorbing floodwater from storms, providing habitat for all sorts of birds and critters and myriad other benefits, […]

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