Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Richard Hazlett

Reader 2

Serena Moseman-Valtierra

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Robert E. Ventura

Abstract

Climate change is one of the largest problems facing this generation. Anthropogenically caused increases of greenhouse gas emissions is a significant culprit to this problem. Although the obvious problems such as cars, industry, and urbanism garnish a significant amount of the criticism, natural sources such as wetlands are also beginning to contribute to this issue. This is becoming increasingly significant as wetlands shift from being sinks of greenhouse gases to becoming sources as various anthropogenic impacts, including global warming itself, begin to affect the health of the wetlands. The aim of this project is to look at four common types of wetlands, being tropical mangroves, temperate coastal marshes, inland meadows, and subarctic peatlands, all located in different climactic areas of the world, and by doing a meta-analysis of available data of greenhouse gas production for each wetland type, observe how differences in their greenhouse gas production may contribute or be affected by climate change and global warming. Results of the meta-analysis revealed that the most significant production of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide occurs in coastal wetlands such as tropical mangroves and coastal marshes, while the greenhouse gas methane is seen to be produced most in subarctic peatlands. These contributions of wetlands to global greenhouse gas production are not as significant as other anthropogenic contributions. However, subarctic wetlands contribute to more than half of the global methane emissions, and the most important aspect of wetland greenhouse gas production is that they are producing more greenhouse gases than they would normally be sequestering, contributing more than the basic greenhouse gas production data can display. Global climate changes such as temperature increase and sea level rise could also make these levels of greenhouse gas production become worse, although measures to decrease the effects of this such as regulations on anthropogenic nitrogen input, macrophyte presence, and prevention of peat burning.