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August Cool Front(!)... "Earth Gauge": Wetlands

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Updated: 8/23/2013 10:59 pm

More rain for the weekend but then some significant changes in the days that follow.

Tropical moisture combined with weak upper level disturbances & an approaching cool front will lead to numerous showers & t'storms Sat. & Sun. Heavy rain & frequent lightning will be the primary hazards as well as a brief waterspout or two.

By Mon., the front will be far enough south to allow some drier air to finally feed into the First Coast dramatically decreasing rain across the area. A few scattered showers will still move onshore from the Atlantic Mon. but then mostly dry for midweek.  Brisk northeast winds off the Atlantic will elevate the rip current risk at area beaches while inland lows will drop into the 60s Mon., Tue., & Wed. Highs will still be warm but "only" topping out in the 80s.

Earth Gauge: The Wetlands Where You Live: Southeastern Pocosins

Wetlands have sometimes been regarded as an uninviting part of nature. Because of this, many people don’t take the time to get to know their local wetlands and learn about the many benefits they provide.  More than half of the wetlands that once existed in the United States have been drained, filled, farmed or built over as cities sprawl.  We can help protect the wetlands that remain by identifying the types of wetlands in our own area and understanding the value of these ecosystems as a whole.

Pocosins

Tip:

Learn more about the many benefits wetlands provide in the

So why should you care about pocosins?  Pocosins have the important role of filtering water slowly through the soil, allowing ample time for excess nutrients to be absorbed.  The water that is then slowly released into coastal estuaries helps control salt concentrations and provides brackish habitat (mixture of fresh and salt water) for certain fish species. Pocosins also serve as home to species like the black bear, the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and pine barrens tree frog
.("swamp-on-a-hill" in Algonquin) are wetlands found along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from southern Virginia to Florida, dominated by evergreen shrub and trees. As their name suggests, pocosins are the topographic high areas on the regional landscape and provide a source of water for downstream areas. Usually, there is no standing water present in pocosins, but a shallow water table leaves the soil wet below the surface for much of the year. Driven primarily by rainfall, they can dry up in the spring and summer months. In fact, pocosins can become so dry that they experience fires once every 10 to 30 years, allowing for renewed diversity of plant growth. Common species you’ll find here are evergreens such as the Loblolly Bay, Red Bay and Sweet Bay trees, as well as titi, fetterbush, and zenobia shrubs.  Like northern bogs, pocosins have nutrient-poor  acidic soils and water, and accumulate peat. Pocosins face threats from agriculture, timber harvesting, peat mining, and phosphate mining. Infographic - click ** here **.

(Sources: EPA, "What are Wetlands?"

EPA, "Wetlands—Wetland Types,"; EPA, "Types of Wetlands,)

Climate Trivia: How does Climate Change Affect Wetlands?

R.S., M.A. Allison, and T.S. Bianchi. 2011. Mangrove Expansion in The Gulf of Mexico with Climate Change: Implications for Wetland Health and Resistance to Rising Sea Levels. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 96:81-95. and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Coastal Issues: Climate Change. Accessed online 7 August 2013. )

Have a great & safe weekend!

(Sources: United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 2009. Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009.112 pp. and Burkett, V. and J. Kusler. 2000. Climate Change: Potential Impacts and Interactions in Wetlands of the United States. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 36(2):313-320 and United States Environmental Protection Agency. What are wetlands? Accessed online 6 August 2013.

Wetlands are found from the tropics to the tundra, on every continent except Antarctica. Wetlands can have saltwater, freshwater or brackish water (more salty than freshwater, but less salty than saltwater). In 2009, it was estimated that there were 110.1 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States; 95 percent of all wetlands are freshwater and five percent are marine or estuarine systems. Wetlands are sensitive ecosystems affected by variations in weather and climate conditions.

Trivia Question: How does climate change affect wetlands?

a)    Increased frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts affects wetlands that depend primarily on rain water, such as bogs.
b)    Sea level rise inundates low-lying coastal wetlands that can’t keep up with rising water levels or migrate inland.
c)    Rising temperatures change the distribution of animal and plant species living in wetlands.
d)    Changes in temperature and precipitation impact the availability of seasonal wetlands, such as North American prairie potholes, that provide habitat for migratory waterfowl.
e)    All of the above.

The correct answer is e.

Wetlands are most affected by changes in temperature and precipitation. Climate change has led to sea level rise, warmer temperatures, altered precipitation patterns and increased frequency of some extreme weather events. Droughts affect wetlands that are most vulnerable to changes in precipitation, such as bogs. In the last 100 years, global sea level has risen 4 to 8 inches, affecting coastal wetlands by inundation, erosion and saltwater intrusion. Rising temperatures and changes in precipitation have affected the distribution of wetland species, converted some wetlands to dry land or shifted one wetland type to another. For example, black mangroves are expanding their latitudinal range at the expense of coastal saline wetlands dominated by marsh grasses in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, changing temperature and precipitation patterns affect availability and quality of prairie potholes, which fill with rain and snowmelt in the spring and provide habitat for breeding waterfowl in the Midwest
.

Have a great & safe weekend!
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