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Urban Marshes

October 11, 2018

New York’s urban marshes are suffering from mineral deficiency.



Starving our marshes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The marshes that surround New York might look like wastelands, but they purify water, provide a nursery for fish, and absorb the brunt of hurricanes and other storms. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, NASA paleoecologist Dorothy Peteet and her colleagues report that the marshes are weakening, because they’re no longer getting mineral sediments from rivers.

DOROTHY PETEET (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies):

You used to have eighteen streams bringing sediment into the marshes and now there are only eight. So you’re starving these marshes of the mineral matter that helps them keep up.


Also, nutrients from storm run-off make the marsh plants grow shallow roots that can’t grip the soil. They conclude that without expanded restoration efforts, the marshes will continue to recede, leaving the mainland exposed to storms and rising sea levels.  I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon