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February 22th, 2017
7:00-8:30 PM

Kirkwood Station Brewing Co., Kirkwood, MO

Wetlands, Heavy Metals and Climate Change

Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Moderated by: Cynthia Wichelman, M.D.

The word “wetlands” often conjures images of cattails, ducks and mosquitoes. And when people hear about “heavy metals” they may think of toxins in water (or long hair, leather pants and loud music ;-). So what do wetlands and heavy metals have to do with climate change? Wetlands are areas like marshes, swamps, bogs and fens, where water lies stagnant, unique grasses grow and trees grow, and where waterfowl often make a home. Wetlands are also the largest natural source of methane emissions into Earth's atmosphere. This powerful greenhouse system has long been present in our air, but the methane concentration has risen over the last century and is the second biggest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. Scientists have been studying what will happen to wetlands as the planet warms, and all signs suggest they will expand in area and produce more methane, which will lead to further warming: a positive feedback loop. In trying to predict how human activity will impact this process, scientists have recently recognized that heavy metals may also play an important role. The microorganisms that live in wetlands and produce the methane do so by utilizing heavy metals as enzymatic cofactors; and under conditions of limited availability of heavy metals, less methane is produced. An emerging question is: Does pollution of our waters with heavy metals then lead to higher methane emissions and thus greater climate change?

Science On Tap highlighted on St. Louis Public Radio and Voice of America!

Science On Tap is a place where, for the price of a beverage, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings take place outside a traditional academic context, at the Kirkwood Station Restaurant & Brewing Co.

Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of the month during the academic year, usually from 7:00 - 8:30 PM. The standard format is as follows: about 45 minutes of presentation, followed by discussion until 8:30 PM.

Kirkwood Station Restaurant & Brewing Co.
105 E. Jefferson Ave.
Kirkwood, MO 63122

Register to receive e-mail announcements of future Science On Tap events.

Interested in learning about medicine? Check out Washington University's Mini-Medical School!

For more information: e-mail scienceontap@wustl.edu
or call (314) 935-9495

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