Summary: Plants living in the ocean have a tremendous role to play in carbon storage, and salt marshes are particularly good at storing carbon because the plants decompose so slowly. This topic guide focuses on the role marine wetlands play in carbon sequestration. Students visit a local wetland to better understand what ecological services it may provide, and then share the information with others who can help prioritize wetlands protection and restoration efforts.
Concepts to teach:
- Crosscutting Concepts
- Energy and Matter
- Disciplinary Core Ideas
- LS1.C – Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
- ESS3.C – Human Impacts on Earth Systems
- Science Practices
- Engaging in argument from evidence; Obtaining, evaluating and communication information
- Through photosynthesis, plants take in and store carbon dioxide from the air
- Salt marshes store a lot of carbon because the organic material is slow to decompose
- Wetlands provide a variety of ecosystem services, including sequestering carbon
Standards: NGSS Performance Expectations
- 5-LS1-1. Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
Students will be able to:
- Describe the role marine wetlands play in storing carbon
- Describe the many other ecological services provided by wetlands
Activity Links and Resources:
- Activity: Photosynthesis and Carbon Storage from Lesson 1.2 in the Bringing Wetlands to Market curriculum explores how wetlands function to sequester carbon, and includes the following resources:
- Video: Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey: Blue Carbon—A very quick but thorough description of what “Blue Carbon” is and why marine coastal wetlands are important carbon sinks.
- Reading: Blue Carbon Fact Sheet
- Activity: Wetlands and their Ecological Services from Lesson 1.3 in the Bringing Wetlands to Market curriculum explores different types of wetlands and the ecological services they provide.
- Wetland Ecological Services from Oregon Explorer
- Activity: Visit a local wetland and observe the realized or potential ecological services it provides, including but not limited to its ability to capture and store carbon from the atmosphere. Invite a community partner involved in wetland restoration efforts to share local information about wetlands protection efforts.
- Resource: Oregon’s Major Wetland Types—Identify different types of wetlands in Oregon, and visit one or more wetlands during the school year. Compare and contrast freshwater and saltwater wetland areas. Depending on the location of your school, it may be easier to visit freshwater wetlands more frequently.
- Students create and share with others presentations that describe the role a local wetland has in sequestering excess carbon from the atmosphere. Examples of presentations may include a poster, a theatrical interpretation of the carbon cycle, a slide presentation, video, PSA, etc.