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Ecosystem Services of Wetlands in an Energy-Limited Future William J. Mitsch, Ph.D. Distinguished Professor of Environment and Natural Resources Director,

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Presentation on theme: "Ecosystem Services of Wetlands in an Energy-Limited Future William J. Mitsch, Ph.D. Distinguished Professor of Environment and Natural Resources Director,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Ecosystem Services of Wetlands in an Energy-Limited Future William J. Mitsch, Ph.D. Distinguished Professor of Environment and Natural Resources Director, Olentangy River Wetland Research Park Editor-in-Chief, Ecological Engineering The Ohio State University

2 Outline The big global issues Ecological engineering Wetland ecosystem services and human history Optimizing ecosystem services of wetlands—6 case studies Conclusions

3 Human population (billions) Worldwide human population projection Source: Mitsch and Jørgensen 2004

4 Atmospheric CO 2 Available Nitrogen Percent Change Worldwide carbon and nitrogen

5 Worldwide oil discovery and production Source: Day et al., 2009

6 Worldwide energy use projection Source: Clugston, Quad =10 15 BTU or × joules Quads/year 710 Quads Optimistic Conservative Source: Clugston,

7 Ecosystems and Complexity Natural ecosystems are complex entropy- fighting systems, and in that complexity comes an infinite amount of feedbacks and adaptations that contribute to resiliency. Human society, as a “part of” nature and not “apart from” nature would do well to recognize and use the important functions of nature (rather than destroy them) to provide a resilient and sustainable society.

8 Conventional Engineering Mitsch (1998)

9 Ecological Engineering ECOSYSTEM

10 Ecological Engineering the design of sustainable ecosystems that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both Source: Mitsch and Jørgensen, Ecological Engineering and Ecosystem Restoration, J. Wiley.

11 The Spectrum of Ecological Engineering

12 Wetlands and riparian ecosystems have major roles in restoring the viability of cities and rural areas

13 Water quality improvement Floodwater retention Biodiversity islands and corridors Carbon sequestration Locations for human relaxation and nature observation/education Wetlands provide valuable ecosystem services:

14 Babylonian Cultures in their Watery Environment Human History and Wetlands

15 “Marsh Arabs,” southern Iraq Human History and Wetlands

16 Camarguais, southern France Human History and Wetlands

17 Cajuns, Louisiana (early 1900s) Human History and Wetlands

18 Native Americans (Sokaogon Chippewa), Wisconsin Human History and Wetlands

19 We have lost an estimated 50% of our original wetlands in the world. In Ohio, USA, we have lost 90% of our original wetlands. Human History and Wetlands


21 Restoring an ancient culture

22 Mitsch and Gosselink Wetlands, 4th ed., J. Wiley

23 Restoring the Mesopotamian Marshlands

24 Mitsch and Gosselink Wetlands, 4th ed., J. Wiley

25 Restoring the Mesopotamian Marshlands

26 Mitsch and Gosselink Wetlands, 4th ed., J. Wiley

27 Restoring the Mesopotamian Marshlands Photo by Azzam Alwash, reprinted with permission in Mitsch and Gosselink Wetlands, 4th ed., J. Wiley

28 Protecting coastlines and coastal cities

29 Indian Ocean Tsunami 230,000 people killed or missing in late December 2004 as a result of a massive tsunami around the Indian Ocean caused by earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia Destruction of mangrove swamps for shrimp farms and tourist meccas bears some of the responsibility. In the area hardest hit, 26% of mangrove wetlands, or 1.5 million ha, had been destroyed from 1980 to 2000

30 Mangrove Tidal Creek, Koh Phra Tong, Phang Nga, Thailand Before the Indian Ocean Tsunami Indian Ocean Tsunami

31 Mangrove Tidal Creek, Koh Phra Tong, Phang Nga, Thailand After the Boxing Day Tsunami (February 2005) Indian Ocean Tsunami

32 Coastal surges and mangrove forests Pre-tsunami—Simulation models illustrated that a wide (100 m) belt of dense mangrove trees (referred to as a “greenbelt”) could reduce a tsunami pressure flow by more than 90% (Hiraishi and Harada, 2003). Post tsunami—In an area of S.E. India there was significantly less damage where mangroves had been conserved (Danielsen et al., 2005; Science) Indian Ocean Tsunami

33 Past and Projected Wetland Loss in the Mississippi Delta (1839 to 2020) NEW ORLEANS Coastal Louisiana

34 1: August 23, : August 26, : August 28, : August 29, 2005 TROPICAL DEPRESSION TROPICAL STORM CATEGORY 1 CATEGORY 2 CATEGORY 3 CATEGORY 4 CATEGORY 5 Coastal Louisiana

35 Hurricane Katrina storm surge near New Orleans, estimated to be m high Coastal Louisiana


37 March 5, 2001 pre-diversion March 21, 2001 during diversion Coastal Louisiana River diversions may be one of the answers to wetland loss in Louisiana

38 Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill of 20 April 2010 Coastal Louisiana

39 Restoring water quality in watersheds to prevent downstream impacts

40 Mississippi-Ohio-Missouri (MOM) Basin Restoration

41 The Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia in 2008 = 20,700 km 2 (8,000 mi 2 ) Mississippi-Ohio-Missouri (MOM) Basin Restoration

42 Better Fertilizer Management Created/Restored Wetlands Restored Riparian Bottomlands Mitsch et al Mississippi-Ohio-Missouri (MOM) Basin Restoration 2 million hectares of these ecosystems are needed

43 Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park

44 Columbus OHIO Goal is to create 28,000 ha of riparian systems and wetlands in one watershed in Ohio Mississippi-Ohio-Missouri (MOM) Basin Restoration

45 Restoring the Florida Everglades


47 Florida has installed thousands of hectares of wetlands to reduce the phosphorus inflow to the Everglades

48 Sequestering carbon


50 Wetland typeg-C m -2 yr -1 Reference General range for wetlands20–140Mitra et al. (2005) Tropical wetland (9.5 m core from Indonesia) 56 (for 24,000 yrs) 94 (for last 500 yrs) Page et al. (2004) Boreal peatlands15–26Turunen et al. (2002) Temperate peatlands10–46Turunen et al. (2002) Created temperate marshes, OH (10- year average) 180–190Anderson and Mitsch (2006) Restored prairie pothole wetlands, North America 305Euliss et al. (2006) Reference prairie pothole wetlands83Euliss et al. (2006) EARTH University tropical wetland255Bernal and Mitsch Old Woman Creek Ohio, temperate wetland 143Bernal and Mitsch Carbon Sequestration in Wetlands Source: Mitsch and Gosselink, 2007

51 Fluxes: Pg/yrPools: Pg (=10 15 g)

52 Conclusions If ever there were a transdiscipline whose time has come, it is ecological engineering. Source: Clugston, 2007

53 Global energy use/year Ecological Engineering developed Ecological Engineering needed Conclusions

54 Wetlands provide many ecosystem services such as human protection in coastal areas, water quality improvement in watersheds, and carbon retention almost everywhere. Their conservation, creation, and restoration should be international priorities.

55 Conclusions City landscapes especially should include wetland ecosystems for the many ecosystem services that they provide including human relaxation and ecological education.

56 Conclusions Wetland parks as part of urban developments, can not only be maintained with a small carbon cost but also as large carbon sinks.

57 Conclusions Engineers, scientists, and policy makers need to recognize that Mother Nature (self-design) and Father Time (it takes time) are the parents and guardians of functional ecosystems.

58 Acknowledgements OHI O

59 Thank you very much!

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