All of New England is covered in a thick layer of ice and snow at the moment. And that makes it a perfect time to see what is going on in the marsh!
When we went out to the Squantum Marsh in Qunicy today, this is what we found:
The marsh was covered in an apocolyptic snow-ice mix that was at least a meter thick in some places!
Our undergrad Nelson Nease is starting up a project this winter investigating the effect of snow pack on marsh functioning and grass emergence time. In other words, what does all this snow and ice mean for the marsh once spring has finally has sprung?? Research in New England forests has shown that a layer of snow insulates the soil from freezing and reduces the frequency of root damaging freeze/thaw events. We are wondering if something similar happens in the marshes!
Today Nelson led a team of cold marsh ecologists out to get started on a snow removal experiment. Using shovels, spades, and a pick axe, we slowly made our way thorough a 2 feet layer of snow and ice to reveal the unfrozen mud below.
Today was just the first cut at an experiment that will surely be exciting. We have some more plots to clear and we will be putting temperature monitors in the plots to see how strong the snow insulation effects are in the marsh.
More to come soon from this winter #marshlife expedition