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How does/would/might climate change affect the Louisiana wetlands?

Organization(s):Cabrini High School
Student(s):Claire Jones, Rachel Lofthus, Kalie Cavanagh
Grade Level:Secondary School (grades 9-12, ages 14-18)
GLOBE Educator(s):Ann Smart
Report Type(s):
Date Submitted:05/01/2013
Screen capture from presentation
Climate has a big affect on wetland and other different land areas. The wetlands in Louisianian not only depend on the weather and climate around the wetland but especially the weather and climates further north because an often problem is with the different sediment and other run off coming down into the wetlands. The climate can also affect the polar ice caps and cause water levels to rise or lower in the wetlands. Along with all of the surrounding climates having an affect on the wetlands the climate directly around he wetlands can greatly increase or decrease water levels and types of species that will continue to live in that particular wetland. This can cause agricultural and recreational aspects to change over long periods of time. Climate is also one of the factors for the wetland disappearance in the last few decades. Many different storms and other weather related events slowly diminish the wetlands and destroy what little storm buffer we already have. When climate does change around the wetlands it can cause species to either thrive or die out. Which can also affect not only recreational activities but real peoples jobs and the surrounding economy. Which makes the current and future state of the climate along with the wetlands something that will affect the way of life of all those living near and far something to take into consideration.


What happens to the wetlands if the species die out? How will they be affected?
If the nutria die out, that would be a great advantage to the wetlands because the nutria are eating away all the marsh grasses. If the plants die out then more soil washes away. If the other animals die, I don't know how this would affect the wetlands, but maybe we could do research to find out.
(answered by Kalie, entered byteacher)
Hello Claire, Rachel and Kalie. Very interesting and important topic not only for the environment but also as you point out the people that live there. We are having similar issues here in the Chesapeake Bay related to sea level rise but also because there is more and more development right on the coastline. Clearly wetlands are an important resource for everyone.
On you project i was not sure if you used any GLOBE protocols? or got the idea through GLOBE perhaps? You do describe your methods in pretty good detail but i am just not sure if you are following globe protocols.
I think your analysis is interesting but i think it would be nice to put some numbers on the changes you saw with increasing salinity. perhaps even some pictures of your samples may have helped? or plotting your data on a chart?
one final more tricky question for you guys to think about: if sea level rise is occurring slowly would wetlands vegetation be able to adapt to high salt content? and survive? or is there a point where they could not cope?
Finally, one really interesting avenue to follow up is to maybe try to sample wetland area soil/water at various points. so to do a little field research emoticon keep up the good work!
We used GLOBE protocols to test water quality of Bayou St. John, which is directly in front of our school. We used protocols for atmosphere testing in our school yard. We did research to find out what was happening in the real wetlands; we did not travel to them. We did some lab experiments in class to see what happens when polar ice caps melt and when freshwater plants are given saltwater instead. (students' response; entered by teacher)
Claire, Katie, and Rachel - Were you able to test the salinity in your wetlands? If so, did you notice any changes or anything interesting? Have you found other data sources to investigate changes in salinity or the wetlands in your area?

I look forward to hearing your answers!
We did not actually travel to the wetlands. Our testing was done on the water in Bayou St. John, which travels through a city neighborhood. We did research on wetland problems and saltwater intrusion. We have not noticed a change in the salinity of the bayou water. (student response; entered by teacher)
Teacher note: there is a project underway to open the bayou directly into Lake Pontchartrain and to create a wetland habitat at this end of the bayou. Future studies may take place there.
Did you measure greenness or the amount of vegetation?
We did not test vegetation since our testing was not done in an actual wetland area.
(student response; posted by teacher)