Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Mitigation and Resilience

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MIT Together in Climate Action Summit, 12/8.

John Fernández (moderator), MIT
Tonna-Marie Surgeon Rogers, Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Derek Lynch, Dalhousie University
Michael Snyder, Vermont
Nicholas Reo, Dartmouth College


Curt Newton's picture

In this Summit panel

In this Summit panel discussion, Tonna-Marie Surgeon Rogers spoke about "blue carbon" sequestration by healthy coastal ecosystems.

Along the Northeastern North American coast, seagrasses have been decimated by decades of pollution and other stresses, leading to many efforts at seagrass restoration. 

Here's a hopeful report on seagrass restoration in the Chesapeake Bay, which relies upon substantial regional coordination to clean up its multi-state watershed.

Seagrasses are the “coastal canaries” of oceans and bays. When these underwater flowering plants are sick or dying, it means the ecosystem is in big trouble – typically due to pollution that reduces water quality. But when they are thriving and expanding, it is a sign that the ecosystem is becoming healthier...

In a new study, we provide conclusive evidence that reducing discharges of nitrogen, phosphorus and other pollutants into the bay has produced the largest resurgence of underwater grasses ever recorded anywhere. This success shows that coastal ecosystems are resilient and that concerted efforts to reduce nutrient pollution can result in substantial improvements...

Map of Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Pollution sources throughout the Bay’s watershed affect its water quality. USGS

The Chesapeake Bay Program is a partnership between six states (New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia), the District of Columbia and the federal government, represented by the EPA. It heavily leverages federal funding by engaging community groups, local municipalities and nongovernmental organizations to carry out actions that help reduce pollution entering the bay. Examples include re-engineering urban surfaces to reduce stormwater runoff and subsidizing farmers to grow winter cover crops that help retain nutrients on fields.

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