back to article Salt marshes will suck CO2 from air faster and faster as seas rise

Salt marshes and similar types of coastal terrain could act naturally to fight global warming by absorbing increasing amounts of carbon in a warming world, scientists have found. Even better, salt marshes' carbon-sequestering effects would actually be increased sea-level rise. Salt marshes, mainly made up of specialised …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great! So the whole of coast of Essex and Norfolk will be OK while the rest us rush down to JJB Sports to get our trunks and water wings sorted!

    1. spodula
      Happy

      Some of you..

      I live in a house in the pennines. The rest of you will have to be under 50 foot of water before The it starts lapping around here... although Hebden Bridge (Just down the road), seems to be in the process of being claimed by an all new inland sea at the moment.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Some of you..

        "I live in a house in the pennines....." Whilst you are no doubt making the best of a poor situation, it really would need an Apocalyptic scenario to give the area appeal. After all, in the event of major flooding, where do you think all the inhabitants of Moss Side will be heading (after they finish looting)?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Some of you..

          People from that side of the hill, won't be going to the other side of the hill, apocalypse or not. I'd say the people of Hebden Bridge would be safe, from Moss Siders.

    2. Blubster
      Happy

      @AC 08:06

      "Great! So the whole of coast of Essex and Norfolk will be OK while the rest us rush down to JJB Sports to get our trunks and water wings sorted!"

      You'd best get a move on then JJB are going tits up.

      1. emmanuel goldstein

        Re: @AC 08:06

        this could be the shot-in-the-arm that JJB needs

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep, the Doomsayers models are too simple.

    As we dig deeper into the CO2 fiasco and question the validity of the climate models we are finding that a poorly constructed Newtonian view of the climate is found to be wanting. There are millions of equasions to get a very rough estimate of what MAY happen that are subject to ENORMOUS variance as to be next to useless.

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: Yep, the Doomsayers models are too simple.

      GAAHHH EQUASIONS. MILLIONS OF ENORMOUS EQUASIONS. WHAT A FIASCO!

    2. compdoc

      Re: Yep, the Doomsayers models are too simple.

      The only fiasco is the amount of CO2 we've been pumping into the environment. Not to mention the other pollutants into the air and seas. I remember a time when the oceans off California were pristine and you could see to the bottom. No longer. The planet is trashed, and the poles are melting. It might already be too late and yet there are still people around that think the whole 'global warming' thing was just some hoax designed to take our money. Incredibly shortsighted. Incredibly dumb.

  3. John Hughes

    Wonderful. Nothing to worry about then.

    Or maybe we should?

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2

    "could" is a nice word.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Wonderful. Nothing to worry about then.

      No-one seriously doubts that CO2 is increasing or that burning fossil fuels is a major contributor. Where it gets tricky are questions like these:

      (a) what will be the future rate of CO2 emissions - depends in large part on economic assumptions of future growth in GDP (which hasn't been very much over the last few years) and technological ones about the energy sources needed to support it.

      (b) what will be the impact on climate - which is what this paper is about, one of many positive and negative feedback loops whose magnitude is not well understood (science-speak for 'no-one has a clue').

      Try answering these questions without using the words 'could', 'might' or probably'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wonderful. Nothing to worry about then.

        If I were you I would worry far more about overpopulation, deforestation and despeciation. CO2 is a red herring.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Wonderful. Nothing to worry about then.

          "If I were you I would worry far more about overpopulation, deforestation and despeciation. CO2 is a red herring."

          Its not a red herring, but the others are problems we can solve quite easily. Educating women is a known way of cutting down the birth rate in developing countries - a tiny percentage of the budget spent on windfarms spent on educating in africa etc could indirectly do more for the enviroment than the windmills ever could.

          Though of course no politician ever wants to address the elephant in the room that is overpopulation especially given that every religion and culture seems to worship having children as the ultimate goal of any adult. We really need to get past this primitive hormonal driven mindset so we can address the issue. China did it and still get critised from emoting idiots , but imagine chinas population (and hence pollution) now if there HADN'T been a 1 child policy.

          1. Arnold Lieberman
            WTF?

            Re: Wonderful. Nothing to worry about then.

            Yeah, more forced abortions! That's the way! If the plebs won't stop breeding, chop their knackers off. After all, it's for the greater good...

  4. John Hughes

    Oh, the bit Lewis didn't feel like mentioning.

    "Our simulations suggest that the net impact of climate change will be to increase carbon burial rates in the first half of the twenty-first century, but that carbon–climate feedbacks are likely to diminish over time."

    1. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: Oh, the bit Lewis didn't feel like mentioning.

      Nice quote, but it does make me wonder if you actually looked at, and interpreted the nice graphs provided with the abstract. They tell you stuff, m'kay...

      Especially fig.3 is interesting since it tells you how much sea level rise a coastal marsh system can take before sea level rise > accumulation of elevation. Which comes in at around 5-6 mm/year *on average*.

      This is just about double the average global sea rise we currently have, and comparable to the average sea level rise during the Big Melt at the end of the last glacial period.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        That's what the BBC said as well, as far as I remember.

        The seas are rising and the salt marshes are fucked.

        Well, they said it in a more roundabouty way, but that's the gist.

    2. Adam-the-Kiwi

      Re: Oh, the bit Lewis didn't feel like mentioning.

      Lewis Page in "selectively reports scientific paper to suit his own worldwiew" shocker! Tell me it ain't so...

      On a more serious note, this is great news and should be a driver to exert much more effort on preserving salt marshes, sea grasses and mangroves - something we're not very good at right now.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Sounds like a good opportunity to cultivate some salt marshes or mangrove swamps in some coastal dessert regions around the world maybe cheaper and environmentally better than the carbon offsetting of planting trees that they do now

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "....cultivate some salt marshes or mangrove swamps....."

      An intersting idea which would probably have a side benefit of increasing fish populations in the area, whch could lead to improvements in local diet.

    2. Lord Voldemortgage

      And salt marshes make for very tasty sheep.

      -

      Good news that this CO2 / sea level model can be trusted unlike all those nasty old model which predict unpleasant things sooner.

      1. Tim Parker

        Sheep

        "And salt marshes make for very tasty sheep."

        Hmmm tasty - and they also provide growth area for samphire to have with all that lovely fish.

  6. Shannon Jacobs
    FAIL

    Nothing to see here

    Really I only looked to check the author. 'Nuff to know it's worthless and empty tripe.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Nothing to see here

      Which translates as "I didn't bother reading the article as my mind is too limited and closed to comtemplate an option to what I have already been told is the 'cool' version."

      1. Steven Jones

        Re: Nothing to see here

        When you can invariably predict the author of a science news item purely by the slant of the headline, it rather indicates your dealing with a polemicist and not a reporter...

        1. Steven Jones

          Re: Nothing to see here

          You're not your of course...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I imagine Lewis...

    ... combing the gigabytes of newswires every day to find any small nugget that can be turned into a positive story about climate change. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it, I suppose. Isn't it time El Reg did a story on the positive potential for Britain's wine makers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I imagine Lewis...

      You just don't get Lewis' humour. There never is positive news about climate change. It's always bad. Lewis just takes the piss out of the lengths these morons have to go to to come up with it. Lol.

      Bit of Bill Hicks for you. You can adapt it quite easily to climate change news. "Watch CNN Headline news for an hour, its the most depressing fucking thing: WAR, FAMINE, DEATH, AIDS, HOMELESS, RECESSION, DEPRESSION... and you look out your window ::cricket sounds:: where's all this shit happening?!"

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: I imagine Lewis...

      The sad part is why anybody would do this at all. Cherry picking and quote mining are not science. They're tools of denialists and you'll see them commonly used by denialists whether the topic is global warming, evolution, vaccinations, moon landings, 9/11 or the holocaust.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I imagine Lewis...

        "Cherry picking and quote mining are not science"

        No, they are not. The problem is that most of the 'peer reviewed science' that passes for climate science is exactly that, cherry picking and quote mining. But you don't get that. Just the fact that you use the word 'denialist' says enough. You are part of the sheeple my friend. Easy prey. But no worries, X Factor will be on this weekend, enjoy.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: I imagine Lewis...

          Er no, peer reviewed studies are expected to follow the scientific method and apply a high level of rigor in terms of what they report and the conclusions that can be drawn from such. Rigor might include such as error bars, qualifying remarks, size of studies, method of analysis, and so forth. It is of course these things that denialists leap upon and do their cherry picking and quote mining from. And we see it time and again from Mr Lewis.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            Re: I imagine Lewis...

            "Er no, peer reviewed studies are expected to follow the scientific method and apply a high level of rigor in terms of what they report and the conclusions that can be drawn from such."

            *Expected* to certainly.

            Done so? Not allowed factional interests to compromise integrity?

            Not had papers peer reviewed where the reviewers *know* the writers (and are in contact with them)?

            Not published papers showing conclusions *without* evidence perhaps because the data analysis chain was (to put it politely) FUBAR?

            I am not a denialst. But I'd suggest the evidence is that researchers have played *very* fast and very loose with the peer review process.

        2. boltar Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: I imagine Lewis...

          "The problem is that most of the 'peer reviewed science' that passes for climate science is exactly that, cherry picking and quote mining"

          You don't really understand peer reveiwing do you?

          "X Factor will be on this weekend, enjoy."

          No doubt you will.

          1. Tom 13

            Re: I imagine Lewis...

            Having worked at a scientific journal once upon a time, yes actually I do. And a far better idea than the myth you and the rest of the warmists portray. Peer review is an even worse piece of crap than anything a politician says during a campaign, because in a campaign you at least KNOW what they are peddling is crap.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I imagine Lewis...

              I worked in financial services for about fourteen years, and while I may know a little about money, it doesn't make me an economist. I'd like to know what you think would be better than peer review.

              1. EvilGav 1
                Happy

                Re: I imagine Lewis...

                Interesting you choose that analogy, given that economists are another bunch of snake-oil peddlers who continually claim to have models that never seem to come particularly close to reality.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I imagine Lewis...

                  Well, thankyou Gav for your deep insight into such a complex field.

            2. boltar Silver badge

              Re: I imagine Lewis...

              "Having worked at a scientific journal once upon a time,"

              Someone has to make the coffee I suppose.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I imagine Lewis...

          Your post included 'sheeple' - your point is invalid

  8. Chris 3
    Holmes

    Is it just me,

    or has the 'Rate this story' thermometer gone for everyone else?

    1. annodomini2

      Re: Is it just me,

      Not just this story, they've all disappeared.

      1. Tim Parker

        Re: Is it just me,

        ...maybe AO finally had enough of the feedback.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it just me,

      To be fair, it seemed to be a pretty pointless exercise, once it had become apparent that people voted based on the content of the story rather than the quality of the article.

  9. Alan Denman

    A salt marsh barrage?

    Salt marshes, coming up the Thames to you sometime soon.

  10. ukgnome

    Good news all round

    Currently Cleethorpes is trying to work out what to do about the expanding salt marsh there.

    But if it slurps up the naughty carbon dioxide then they are fighting a losing battle if they want to get rid of it. Also it turns out to be a breeding ground for fish. Although why the folk of Grimsby want to do their breeding on the marsh is beyond me. *I may of miss read the article a bit.

    http://www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk/Cleethorpes-salt-marsh-haven-breeding-fish/story-11530589-detail/story.html

  11. CCCP
    Meh

    Freudian typing

    "Even better, salt marshes' carbon-sequestering effects would actually be increased sea-level rise."

    Funny how how a missing little word like "as" shows what one is really thinking.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. CCCP
        Thumb Down

        Re: Freudian typing

        @AC 10:13

        It's funnier if you remove the "as", making it "you sptic"

        But actually, it's not funny at all as the term is offensive to people with cerebral palsy, and to people with disability in general.

        Now go away.

  12. Thought About IT
    Facepalm

    Mixed message

    What a mixed message Lewis is sending. Contrast the headline:

    "Salt marshes will suck CO2 from air faster and faster as seas rise"

    with the first sentence of his article:

    "Salt marshes and similar types of coastal terrain could act naturally to fight global warming"

    At least he's now conceding that global warming is happening and CO2 emissions are driving it. I wonder how long it will take him to admit that countering the effects will cost far more than reducing the emissions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mixed message

      Yeah, you're right, it's so mixed! I don't know what to believe anymore. Can you help me? You seem to have Thought About IT

      1. Thought About IT

        Re: Mixed message

        Don't be so lazy. Nip over to WUWT or GWPF if you want to be told what to believe.

    2. EvilGav 1
      FAIL

      Re: Mixed message

      How many times must this be repeated - no-one has ever questioned climate change, it's happening, you wuold have to be the biggest buffoon in the history of the world to think otherwise.

      But :

      Climate Change := Global Warming

      Further, the use of the word "could" means, as well as anything else, that the assumption is based on something yet to be proven - namely that increase in CO2 is driving the climate.

      1. Red Bren

        while ( $argument <> true ) echo $argument;

        "How many times must this be repeated - no-one has ever questioned climate change"

        Er yes they did, until that position became untenable. The hierarchy of climate change denial goes

        1. Deny it is happening

        2. Accept it is happening but deny that human activity is a major contributor

        3. Accept that human activity is a factor but the contribution of developing economies will overwhelm any changes made in the developed world

        4. Accept it is happening but it's too late to do anything about it.

        I'd say we're somewhere between 2 and 3 at the moment.

    3. cnapan

      Re: Mixed message

      "I wonder how long it will take him to admit that countering the effects will cost far more than reducing the emissions."

      Indeed. We have the technology today to hugely reduce emissions, and it would cost a tiny fraction of the impact of sea-level rise to replace the world's coal and gas power stations with these green alternatives.

      I'm talking of nuclear power of course.

      The green movement are the oil companies' biggest assets in a world which knows it should stop pumping oil and digging coal out of the ground but just can't break the habit.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The real issue

    Isn't the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere.

    There have been a number of calculations made of carbon emissions which would give a 80% probabilty that the planet's temperature would increase no more than 2C over the next 50 years (it's about the same amount of carbon as has already been released up to now)

    The big issue is that the amount of carbon likely to be released into the atmosphere during that period is five times higher than that "safe" figure. Even sceptics agree that there will be enhanced warming effects, the only argument is how pronounced they'll be (a bit like arguing if moses had red socks or green socks as he came down from the mountain and achieves about as much too)

    We're in the middle of the biggest science experiment performed in history - and we don't get a choice about participating in it. The only practical way to curb resource demands which drive the carbon emissisions is to cap population growth and that's not a popular option.

    It's more than likely that nothing of note will be done until sea levels start rising far faster than they already are. By that time it would be too late. if action is taken and large sea level rises are staved off then the y2k brouhaha aftermath will be minor by comparison.

    Sea level has the potential to rise 100 metres if all polar/greenland ice melted. That's not going to happen - but a (highly unlikely) 10 metre rise would be catastrophic for current civilization as it would displace at least 3billion people. 1 metre will be bad enough, but given a few decades for it to happen, society can cope.

    "Round and round and round it goes. Where it stops, nobody knows."

    1. cnapan

      Re: The real issue

      "Sea level has the potential to rise 100 metres if all polar/greenland ice melted. That's not going to happen - but a (highly unlikely) 10 metre rise would be catastrophic for current civilization as it would displace at least 3billion people."

      What do you mean "highly unlikely"?

      On the contrary. If the history of the planet is anything to go by, one thing we can be absolutely sure of is that sea levels will eventually be 10 metres higher than they are now.

      It would be utterly remarkable if sea levels managed to remain at today's historically rather low levels.

      Whether we can do something about it is another matter. I just hope it happens in someone else's lifetime.

  15. cnapan
    Pint

    But will it outstrip the Co2 emissions from melting permafrost?

    I'm not too impressed with this article. It seems to me as though I ought to be excited by it, given that most scientists think all that Co2 we've released into the atmosphere to be A Bad Thing.

    But how can I get excited by it, when there are no figures. How much of a negative feedback thing are we talking about?

    Will the sea levels rise by just a foot then stop?

    Or will they rise by 10 metres then stop?

    Or 20?

    You see, by 10 metres, quite a significant portion of the global population will be running for the hills anyway and will probably not get that excited by their not having to travel quite so far inland as they at first thought.

    I suspect this story will just be clung on to and thrown back into climate change debates in a 'and anyway... the salt marshes will fix it so I don't need to worry' sort of way.

  16. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    Folks!!

    Why are you picking on Lewis all the time?. He is clearly an optimist and wants to show us "the sunny side".

    Perhaps I am sarcastic, but we all know that the end is shitty anyway. We all know we do not know enough and some of us believe we can learn more about how this planet reacts. Any new ideas, data is interesting, I think.

  17. shufflingB

    jonathan.hume@gmail.com

    Nothing to worry about then, just have to rely on us not concreting over the coastline and having an ocean that's not so toxic that nothing will grow ...

  18. David Kelly 2

    Stability

    The Earth's environment has been too stable for too long for Earth not to have many different self-correcting mechanisms.

  19. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Climate models...

    Climate models that fail to include the impact and reaction of every possible biosystem, both known *and unknown*, are fatally flawed. Yep, that'd be all of them.

    This does not imply that they necessarily fail to arrive at an approximation of the ultimately correct answer, but it would be pure luck.

    Anyone else notice the report that the USA has accidentally met the Kyoto Protocol by accident? Fracking, natural gas displacing coal. Also, look up the gasoline sales figures for the USA. Huge decrease.

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