Portal:Wetlands

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Wetlands Portal

Wetlands

Freshwater swamp forest in Bangladesh

A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is inundated by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of roles, sometimes referred to as functions. Among these are water purification, water storage, processing of carbon and other nutrients, stabilization of shorelines, and support of plants and animals. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Whether any individual wetland performs these functions, and the degree to which it performs them, depends on characteristics of that wetland and the lands and waters near it Methods (tools) for rapidly assessing these functions, wetland ecological health, and general wetland condition have been developed in many regions and have contributed to wetland conservation partly by raising public awareness of the functions and the ecosystem services some wetlands provide.

Wetlands occur naturally on every continent. The main wetland types are swamp, marsh, bog, fen; sub-types include mangrove forest, carr, pocosin, floodplains., mire, vernal pool, sink, and many others. Many peatlands are wetlands. The water in wetlands is either freshwater, brackish, or saltwater. Wetlands can be tidal (inundated by tides) or non-tidal. The largest wetlands include the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, the Pantanal in South America, and the Sundarbans in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta.

The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth.

Constructed wetlands are used to treat municipal and industrial wastewater as well as stormwater runoff. They may also play a role in water-sensitive urban design.

Selected article

Sudd Swamp from space, May 1993.
The Sudd is a vast swamp in South Sudan, formed by the White Nile's Baḥr al-Jabal section. The Arabic word sudd is derived from sadd (سد), meaning "barrier". The problem of floating islands on Lake Naivasha. Regional Remote Sensing Facility, Nairobi, Kenya. 4p. The term "the sudd" has come to refer to any large solid floating vegetation island or mat. The area which the swamp covers is one of the world's largest wetlands and the largest freshwater wetland in the Nile basin.

For many years the swamp, and especially its thicket of vegetation, proved an impenetrable barrier to navigation along the Nile. For this reason, the search for the source of the Nile was particularly difficult; it eventually involved overland expeditions from the central African coast, so as to avoid having to travel through the Sudd.

The Sudd stretches from Mongalla to just outside the Sobat confluence with the White Nile just upstream of Malakal as well as westwards along the Bahr el Ghazal. The shallow and flat inland delta lies between 5.5 and 9.5 degrees latitude North and covers an area of 500 kilometres (310 mi) south to north and 200 kilometres (120 mi) east to west between Mongalla in the south and Malakal in the north.

Sudd was designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance on 5 June 2006.

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Did you know...

that string bogs are associated with periglacial climates?
...that string bogs are associated with periglacial climates?

(Pictured left: A flark in New Brunswick.)

Other "Did you know" facts... Read more...

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