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Tidal wetlands as a low pH environment for accelerated and scalable olivine dissolution

Coastal marsh at sunrise. Credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Why we care
Enhanced weathering is a carbon capture technology that increases ocean alkalinity by adding rocks with ultrabasic minerals, particularly in ecosystems like wetlands and mangroves. This project examines the safety, efficacy, and potential for large-scale implementation of enhanced weathering in tidal wetlands to enhance weathering as a method of carbon dioxide removal and local-scale ocean acidification mitigation. 

What we will do
Researchers will test that enhanced weathering, particularly with the rock-forming mineral olivine, leads to a decrease in carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Additionally, the study tests that this method increases dissolved inorganic carbon and alkalinity in the porewater and adjacent estuary, and creates a chemical range beneficial for oyster larval recruitment, survival, and growth. The team will conduct experiments at various scales, from the laboratory to field macrocosm, to develop models for olivine dissolution. Laboratory experiments will optimize olivine dissolution rates and assess impacts on various impacts such as the chemistry of soil and coastal seawater and ecosystem health. This small-scale experimentation will inform the design and execution of a field trial where olivine will be applied to a 0.5-hectare salt marsh plot in collaboration with the Herring River Restoration, a salt marsh ecosystem project in the U.S. National Park Service land. The field trial provides an opportunity for the research and regulatory communities to evaluate environmental safety as well as compare measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification technologies. Other outcomes of the field trial include understanding the impact of olivine on soil chemistry, microbial communities, vegetation, and invertebrates. 

Benefits of our work
This project evaluates the safety, efficacy, and potential for large-scale implementation of enhanced weathering in tidal wetlands. This while generating wide interaction and training in the array of fields that need to engage with coastal marine carbon dioxide removal.

Award amount: $1,895,531
IRA funding? Yes
Funding source(s): NOAA
Project duration: 4 years

Kevin Kroeger, United States Geological Survey
Grace Andrews, Vesta Corporation
Sophia Fox, National Park Service
Shannon Meseck, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Timothy Smith, National Park Service
Robert Sohn, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Nathaniel Walworth, Vesta Corporation
Aleck Wang, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Read the press release from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and webstory the USGS

Image: Coastal wetlands like this marsh can be a source for carbon sequestration and enhanced weathering for carbon dioxide removal. Credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

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The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) works to prepare society to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification and conserve marine ecosystems as acidification occurs. Learn more about the human connections and adaptation strategies from these efforts.

Adaptation approaches fostered by the OAP include:


Using models and research to understand the sensitivity of organisms and ecosystems to ocean acidification to make predictions about the future, allowing communities and industries to prepare


Using these models and predictions as tools to facilitate management strategies that will protect marine resources and communities from future changes


Developing innovative tools to help monitor ocean acidification and mitigate changing ocean chemistry locally


On the Road

Drive fuel-efficient vehicles or choose public transportation. Choose your bike or walk! Don't sit idle for more than 30 seconds. Keep your tires properly inflated.

With your Food Choices

Eat local- this helps cut down on production and transport! Reduce your meat and dairy. Compost to avoid food waste ending up in the landfill

With your Food Choices

Make energy-efficient choices for your appliances and lighting. Heat and cool efficiently! Change your air filters and program your thermostat, seal and insulate your home, and support clean energy sources

By Reducing Coastal Acidification

Reduce your use of fertilizers, Improve sewage treatment and run off, and Protect and restore coastal habitats

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You've taken the first step to learn more about ocean acidification - why not spread this knowledge to your community?

Every community has their unique culture, economy and ecology and what’s at stake from ocean acidification may be different depending on where you live.  As a community member, you can take a larger role in educating the public about ocean acidification. Creating awareness is the first step to taking action.  As communities gain traction, neighboring regions that share marine resources can build larger coalitions to address ocean acidification.  Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Work with informal educators, such as aquarium outreach programs and local non-profits, to teach the public about ocean acidification. Visit our Education & Outreach page to find the newest tools!
  2. Participate in habitat restoration efforts to restore habitats that help mitigate the effects of coastal acidification
  3. Facilitate conversations with local businesses that might be affected by ocean acidification, building a plan for the future.
  4. Partner with local community efforts to mitigate the driver behind ocean acidification  – excess CO2 – such as community supported agriculture, bike & car shares and other public transportation options.
  5. Contact your regional Coastal Acidification Network (CAN) to learn how OA is affecting your region and more ideas about how you can get involved in your community
       More for Taking Community Action