Sea level rise is a critical issue for Floridians because it directly affects the Biscayne Aquifer, which is the main supplier of drinking water to South Florida, and freshwater ecosystems like the Everglades. Even the most conservative projections show water levels rising about two feet within eighty years.
The Everglades are comprised of spongy soil deposits called peat. Peat soils hold large amounts of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane gases. When salt water invades the freshwater network, it accelerates peat degradation and induces peat collapse, which in turn can release carbon into the atmosphere.
Xavier Comas, Ph.D., in the Department of Geosciences, uses non-invasive, near-surface geophysical methods to create images of what lies beneath the earth's surface and understand its dynamics. This allows him to map peat deposits in Florida and globally, gaining insight into how sea level rise will affect these delicate ecosystems.
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