With the amount of carbon in the atmosphere at a level never before witnessed by human civilization we need to know how what to do about it. Obviously we need to cut back on all emissions and wasteful consumerist consumption. Beyond that we need to actively support carbon sinks. A new way of measuring carbon sinks can help us determine which type of coastal forest needs the most protection (or revitalization).
Nóbrega hopes to build a library of soil reflectance fingerprints for mangrove soils throughout the world. He doesn’t want to stop with mangrove soils, though. “Ultimately, we want to expand to other coastal environments, such as saltmarshes, seagrasses, and tidal flats,” he says.
Eventually, it might be possible to equip a drone with the required sensors. “Then we could obtain vital information without disturbing sensitive ecosystems,” says Nóbrega. “We could monitor carbon levels in large, inaccessible areas.”