By MATTHEW CIMITILE
Capital News Service
LANSING — Long valued for biological diversity and flood control, Great Lakes coastal wetlands are now seen as a tool to suck up and store excess carbon dioxide. It’s an important function as researchers seek to blunt climate change caused by that greenhouse gas. There are more than 535,000 acres of coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes basin, according to the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium. Nutrients, water and light flowing through these systems fuel a tremendous amount of photosynthesis, a process that absorbs carbon dioxide to produce energy for plant growth, said Donald Uzarski, director of the Institute of Great Lakes Research at Central Michigan University. Once absorbed, wetlands can store that carbon in soils for centuries, even thousands of years.