Department of Geosciences
Reliable, sustainable sources of clean water are increasingly hard to come by. But did you know that there are a lot of additional benefits from cultivating and protecting freshwater wetlands at the source of some of these waters? Wetland ecosystem services include, but are not limited to, providing verdant habitat and food supply for a large diversity of plant, animal and insect species, water filtration, slowing and spreading of floodwaters, limiting erosion, storage of carbon and other nutrients, temperature buffering, pollinator habitat and forage lands, and water storage.
Global climate change is altering the Earth's natural cycling of water from the ground to the air and back again, what is known as the hydrologic cycle. In New England, climate change is predicted to increase temperatures and increase the frequency and strength of rain events. The increased temperatures will result in less snow accumulation in the winter and an increased need for irrigation in the hotter summer as evapo-transpiration increases. This will alter significantly the recharge/extraction cycle. Will less water enter groundwater aquifers because of reduced snow fall?
Total wetland area in the U.S. has been in precipitous decline since the 1900's, and although recent decades have slowed the decline and advocated strongly for the services and economic benefits (not to mention ecological benefits!) these lands provide, still much more work needs to be done to preserve existing wetlands and promote restoration of impaired ones.