Tea Time

Citizen Scientists Needed for Carbon Storage Experiment


Australian scientists have launched a project to bury tens of thousands of teabags in wetlands around the world to discover how efficient different kinds of wetlands are at capturing and storing carbon dioxide. Already, more than 500 citizen scientists are involved on every continent but Antarctica. The bags will be monitored over a three-year period, and then dug up and measured at intervals of three months, six months and each year after that.

Wetlands are important for carbon capture and storage, a process known as carbon sequestration, holding up to 50 times as much carbon as a comparable area in a rainforest; some are better than others. There are hundreds of thousands of wetlands around the world, and a standardized technique for monitoring the carbon sink is needed for accurate comparison—but monitoring devices can be expensive to install.

Faster decay of the tea inside the bag means more carbon is being released into the atmosphere, while a slower rate means the soil is holding the carbon. Once researchers can establish which wetlands are most effective at carbon sequestration, work can begin on protecting and restoring them, and ensuring they are not disrupted.

Volunteers that contact BlueCarbonLab.org will receive a kit containing teabags and information on how to bury them.

This article appears in the August 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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