Group in the Field

Research Questions: How and to what extent can biological carbon sequestration techniques, specifically burying and/or submerging dead trees, increase the carbon sequestration capacity of temperate forests?  How do we minimize any adverse ecological effects of this strategy?  What are the costs and benefits of our sequestration strategy relative to other strategies aimed toward confronting global climate change, and under what circumstances might our strategy be economically viable?

Research Project: Carbon circulates through the atmosphere by the growth and decay of trees.  These natural rates of flux make up a sizeable portion of the Earth’s carbon cycle, and it is this portion that holds potential for carbon sequestration in order to alleviate the effects of global climate change.  Team Carbon Sinks is looking to find a way to sequester carbon effectively in dead trees via their burial and submersion.  Currently, Team Carbon Sinks is conducting a field experiment in Queenstown, Maryland, monitoring the decomposition of over 125 wood samples.  A lab experiment, which is nearing completion, is underway to evaluate the various factors that affect decomposition in buried and submerged wood.  Should these methods prove effective at sequestering carbon, the methodology created by Team Carbon Sinks could be adapted throughout the entire east coast of the United States due to relative ecological homogeneity.  If this region were to be utilized as a carbon sink by burying or submerging dead wood, a large impact could be made to reduce the growing effects of global climate change.

Updates: We have identified several factors that substantially increase the amount of carbon sequestration in wood burial through our lab experiment. We will continue to experiment with these factors and will unveil our findings in our Gemstone Thesis in Spring, 2010.

GemstoneUniversity of MarylandA. James Clark School of Engineering