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Biogeochemistry of interdunal wetlands

Project Full Title:

Carbon and nitrogen cycling in the interdunal wetlands of Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area.

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Project Description:

Wetland soils absorb CO2 and nutrients, but can also produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Rising water levels have caused inundation and the development of a wetland ecosystem among the sand dunes at the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, approximately 10 miles south of Holland. This project will measure the carbon and nitrogen stored in the wetlands and determine the pathways of microbial respiration occurring in the soils. This will quantify the rate of CO2 and nitrogen storage and determine if the wetland has become a methane source. We will split our time between the field site and the laboratory. Students will gain expertise on techniques including ion chromatography, gas chromatography, and elemental (carbon and nitrogen) analysis, as well as techniques for soil sampling and processing. This interdisciplinary project will incorporate the fields of Geology, Environmental Science, and Chemistry. The project, however, is specifically housed within the Hope College Department of Geological & Environmental Sciences. This project is open to Hope College students only.

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