Phytoremediation—broadly defined as the use of living plants to clean up contaminated soil, air, and water—has been generating a lot of buzz as a potential strategy to ease ocean acidification. Phytoremediation in this context refers to harnessing the photosynthetic power of marine algae (i.e. kelp and seaweed) to absorb dissolved carbon dioxide in order to boost seawater pH and reduce stress on shelled organisms like mussels and oysters. Scientists are evaluating this approach in shellfish growing states like Washington and Maine, and the mariculture industry and government agencies that are already getting behind commercial cultivation of ‘sea vegetables’ are poised to capitalize on this potential co-benefit to seawater chemistry. In this webinar, we’ll follow the evolving story of an experimental kelp farm in Washington’s Hood Canal, including a serendipitous partnership with a local terrestrial farmer, review relevant curricular materials published by Maine’s Island Institute and others, and explain how phytoremediation can used to teach essential concepts about the earth’s carbon cycle.
About our speaker: A microbiologist by training, Meg discovered her true calling in 2010 when she happened to read Elizabeth Kolbert’s seminal 2006 article about ocean acidification (OA), The Darkening Sea, in The New Yorker magazine. As Washington Sea Grant’s OA specialist, Meg is a resource on OA science, policy and outreach for diverse stakeholders, including government agencies, academic institutions, tribes, marine industries and the public. She also serves as Sea Grant’s liaison to NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab, a unique appointment created to facilitate the flow of NOAA’s world-class OA research to the greater scientific community and the public. Prior to joining Sea Grant, she worked with the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, the Marine Stewardship Council and Seattle Chefs Collaborative. She’s (practically) a native Seattleite and is interested in everything that happens on or beneath the waves.