Evelyn S. Gonzalez, FIU News, Oct. 30, 2018

More saltwater in the Everglades could make climate change worse, a new FIU study found.

Some parts of the Everglades can release up to three times the amount of carbon dioxide when salinity levels are high and water levels are low, according to FIU scientists. Peat soil in the Florida Everglades can trap harmful carbon dioxide when water levels are high. But intruding saltwater could cause peat soil to break down and release large amounts of carbon.

“We were surprised to see a large amount of carbon loss when only a modest amount of saltwater intruded the dry marsh. We didn’t see the same result when the same modest amount of saltwater intruded the wet marsh,” said Ben Wilson, author of the study, who conducted the research as a biology Ph.D. student at FIU. “The carbon that is potentially being lost from the Everglades during these events is comparable to the carbon dioxide emitted by 35,000 cars annually. It shows even if salinity increases gradually with sea level rise, as long as the coastal Everglades receives more freshwater, some of its negative impacts can be mitigated.”

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