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Marsh monitering
Joanna Carey, Babson College

Low salt marsh habitats release more carbon in response to warming, a new study finds

This complicates the ability of salt marshes to remain carbon sinks as temperatures and sea level rise. It's another wake-up for the need to transition off fossil fuels so that nature-based climate solutions can reach their potential.

Salt marshes, excellent reservoirs of carbon, are living ecosystems with vegetation and microscopic organisms that live, breathe, poop, and die in the marsh mud.

“This is a place where you could get the biggest bang for your buck, if you will, if you’re interested in trying to invest some resources in sequestering carbon using biological systems,” said Serena Moseman-Valtierra, an associate professor of biological science at the University of Rhode Island.

Yet as temperatures rise, marshes at the lowest elevations may also be significant emitters of carbon…

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Ocean
Phys.org

Scientists sound alarm as ocean temperatures hit new record

This has wide-ranging implications because it affects the exchange of heat, oxygen, and carbon between the ocean and atmosphere, with effects including a loss of oxygen in the ocean. "Deoxygenation itself is a nightmare for not only marine life and ecosystems but also for humans and our terrestrial ecosystems," the researchers said in a statement.

The world’s oceans, which have absorbed most of the excess heat caused by humanity’s carbon pollution, continued to see record-breaking temperatures last year, according to research published Wednesday.

Climate change has increased surface temperatures across the planet, leading to atmospheric instability and amplifying extreme weather events such as storms…

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Prairie
iStock

Ancient grasslands guide ambitious goals in grassland restoration

Published in the journal Science on August 5, 2022 as part of a special issue on grasslands, this study contradicts years of assumptions that grasslands’ ecological development is quick and their recovery is rapid, posing new challenges to their successful restoration.

Grasslands, which constitute almost 40% of the terrestrial biosphere, provide habitat for a great diversity of animals and plants and contribute to the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people worldwide. Whereas the destruction and degradation of grasslands can occur rapidly, recent work indicates that complete recovery of biodiversity and essential functions occurs slowly or not at all. Grassland restoration—interventions to speed or guide this recovery—has received less attention than restoration of forested ecosystems, often due to the prevailing assumption that grasslands are recently formed habitats that can reassemble quickly. Viewing grassland restoration as long-term assembly toward old-growth endpoints, with appreciation of feedbacks and threshold shifts, will be crucial for recognizing when and how restoration can guide recovery of this globally important ecosystem.

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Western Prairie
Flickr

Oft-overlooked grasslands build biodiversity, resilience over centuries

Grasslands are important for a variety of reasons, including carbon sequestration. As climate change threatens the American West through drought, heat, and wildfire, grasslands are increasingly understood as very important players. Prairies use less water, reduce soil erosion, and keep carbon in the ground over time.

Grasslands’ biodiversity and resilience to disturbances such as fire, heat, and drought is the result of a slow process over hundreds of years, like that of old-growth forests, finds new CU Boulder-led research.

Published in the journal Science on August 5, 2022 as part of a special issue on grasslands, the study contradicts years of assumptions that grasslands’ ecological development is quick and their recovery is rapid, posing new challenges to their successful restoration.

“Old-growth grasslands have a unique suite of characteristics that develop over a really long time…”

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Butterfly On Tree Rings
Tsun Fung Au

Old-growth trees more drought tolerant than younger ones, providing a buffer against climate change

To me, this is not a surprise. Yet, given increasingly erratic weather, it's more important than ever to manage forests with older trees in mind.

A new analysis of more than 20,000 trees on five continents shows that old-growth trees are more drought tolerant than younger trees in the forest canopy and may be better able to withstand future climate extremes.

The findings highlight the importance of preserving the world’s remaining old-growth forests…

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Cattle Agroforestry
NHPR

Mongabay series: Global Agroforestry

Federal funding comes as interest in agroforestry is growing rapidly in the U.S., alongside the need to rapidly adopt more climate-positive types of agriculture...

An ancient agricultural system, agroforestry combines trees with shrubs, crops, and livestock in a system that produces food, supports biodiversity, builds soil horizons and water tables, and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere — this series explores how and where it is being practiced by Indigenous communities, traditional agriculturists, and new farmers.

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Agroforestry Diagram
Interlace Commons

More on agroforestry

Director Meghan Giroux is currently implementing a program to boost regional training capacity toward helping farms implement this sustainable farming technique — which blends annual crops and livestock with perennial shrubs and trees in a carbon-sequestering system that’s also more resilient to droughts and floods — while keeping her eye on the sizable new opportunities coming from the federal government.

Agroforestry developed as a set of indigenous land-use practices over thousands of years across our global community. The interventions utilize trees, crops, and livestock in intimate combinations to produce positive ecological, social, and economic outcomes. In the United States, agroforestry systems are defined in the following ways: alley cropping, forest farming, riparian buffers, silvopasture, and windbreaks.

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Hops
Erik Hoffner for Mongabay

American agroforestry accelerates with new funding announcements

One of 70 projects from the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities (CSC) program is a $60 million project to advance agroforestry. It's administered by The Nature Conservancy, which will distribute funds to local and regional for-profit and nonprofit training and support partners — from Alabama to Maine, Minnesota to Hawaii and Texas (37 states in all).

“There is a windfall of federal money entering the agroforestry sector,” Meghan Giroux told Mongabay. The director of Vermont-based agroforestry consultancy Interlace Commons, she is currently implementing a program to boost regional training capacity toward helping farms implement this sustainable farming technique — which blends annual crops and livestock with perennial shrubs and trees in a carbon-sequestering system that’s also more resilient to droughts and floods — while keeping her eye on the sizable new opportunities coming from the federal government.

That federal funding comes as interest in agroforestry is growing rapidly in the U.S., alongside the need to rapidly adopt more climate-positive types of agriculture…

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Sheep
AP News

Bees, sheep, crops: solar developers tout multiple benefits

Large-scale solar installations on arable land are becoming increasingly popular in Europe and North America, as farmers seek to make the most of their land and establish a second source of revenue.

Silflower was among native plants that blanketed the vast North American prairie until settlers developed farms and cities. Nowadays confined largely to roadsides and ditches, the long-stemmed cousin of the sunflower may be poised for a comeback, thanks to solar energy.

Researchers are growing silflower at nine solar installations in the Minneapolis area, testing its potential as an oilseed crop. The deep-rooted perennial also offers forage for livestock and desperately needed habitat for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

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Leaves
Judy Anderson

New England’s climate imperative: our forests as a natural climate solution

Land trusts across the country are working to conserve woodlands and forests, while communicating the importance of woodland management and protection for the climate.

In this study, five pathways are developed and assessed that could increase the climate mitigation potential of New England’s forests:

  • Avoided deforestation
  • Wildland reserves
  • Improved forest management
  • Mass timber construction
  • Urban and suburban forests
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