Beginning this week, the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission will begin to find out.
The NJMC's research arm, the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI), will measure the capability of urban wetlands to capture and contain a harmful greenhouse gas.
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MERI scientists have installed two instruments that measure wind speed and the amounts of carbon dioxide emitted and captured by plants in wetlands sites in Carlstadt. MERI scientists will gather this carbon sequestration data in the Meadowlands District over the next six months.
The study could lead to marsh enhancements designed to further cut emissions that contribute to global warming.
By tracking carbon dioxide concentration in the air, wind speed and wind direction, scientists can determine the amount of the compound and its movement through the air.
The measurements are being taken near the two most abundant plant species in the marshes: the salt marsh cordgrass, known as Spartina, and the invasive common reed, Phragmites. The instruments will be moved between Spartina and Phragmites patches throughout the District twice monthly.
The NJMC continuously strives to make its own operations more energy-efficient and reduce its carbon footprint. The Commission has pursued several initiatives to cut energy consumption at its headquarters and plans to install a series of solar farms on its landfills.