Impacts of Sea-Level Rise and Associated Saltwater Intrusion on the Coastal Biogeochemical Processes and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

2019 Faculty Research Award

Award Period: 2019-2021

Satish Myneni, professor of geosciences and PEI associated faculty, will lead an investigation into the potential release of powerful greenhouse gases from coastal freshwater ecosystems as they come in contact with saltwater from rising seas. The project builds on research conducted in New Jersey and South Carolina by the Myneni Lab that indicates that when saltwater comes into contact with organic halogens found in coastal wetland sediment it initiates the release of halomethanes that break down the Earth’s ozone layer. Myneni will expand this work to include coastal mangroves in Florida and Panama, which are threatened by saltwater intrusion due to sea-level rise and coastal development. Researchers on this project will conduct laboratory and field studies to test the emission levels of halomethane, carbon dioxide and methane from coastal soils exposed to seawater, and gauge how those emissions vary based on soil and water chemistry and landscape characteristics.

Educational Impact

Myneni will introduce an extended group project related to the impacts of sea-level rise on coastal ecosystem into a course he teaches, “Environmental Geochemistry: Chemistry of the Natural Systems.” The project will include a week-long fieldtrip to Panama to collect samples and measurements of greenhouse gas emissions. Myneni also plans to segue this project into a proposal for a multidisciplinary federally funded project involving microbiologists, botanists and isotope geochemists.

Participating Departments

Collaborating Institutions


Professor of Geosciences

Graduate Students

  • Danielle Schlesinger, GEO
  • Jianshu Duan, GEO