Study on Cultural Carbon in the Mississippi River
February 02, 2023
LSU researchers are conducting a first-of-its-kind study exploring carbon transport in the Mississippi River that may lead to global applications.
For the past ten years, LSU hydrologist Yi-Jun Xu has been studying dissolved carbon transport along the Mississippi River system to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the emission of carbon into the atmosphere.
In the Mississippi River system, the carbon can either be carried into the Gulf of Mexico as an important food source for aquatic organisms or be returned to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emitted by humans.
Xu has received funding from the Provost's Fund for Innovative Research to expand his study.
“ Carbon's an important element for the biological system, but we don't know how much carbon is in the river that actually does not come from the natural system, but from human impact. ”
His team is collecting samples from two wastewater treatment plants in Baton Rouge. They analyze the amount of dissolved organic and inorganic carbon in treated water directly from the plant and when it is released back into the river. With the funding, Xu plans to expand the study in New Orleans and other areas in the Mississippi River Basin.
"This kind of assessment has never been done before. We want to get an idea of how much carbon per person or per capital contributes every year to the river," Xu said. "If we have such information, we can estimate human direct contribution of carbon to the river from the entire Mississippi River Basin."