May 26, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Summit County Citizens Voice "Seagrasses vital to sequestering atmospheric carbon"

Bob Berwyn:
"SUMMIT COUNTY — Coral reefs may get all the glory when it comes to biodiversity, but new research shows that relatively unsung seagrass communities may play a vital role in sequestering atmospheric carbon.

Any carbon that’s not in the atmosphere means it’s not trapping heat, so cultivating and protecting existing coastal seagrass communities could be a vital part of the solution to climate change, according to the first global analysis of carbon storage in seagrass.

The results of the study suggest that seagrass meadows can store up to twice as much carbon as the world’s temperate and tropical forests — up to 83,000 metric tons of carbon per square kilometer, mostly in the soils beneath them, as compared to typical terrestrial forests, which store about 30,000 metric tons per square kilometer, most of which is in the form of wood.

The research also estimates that, although seagrass meadows occupy less than 0.2 percent of the world’s oceans, they are responsible for more than 10 percent of all carbon buried annually in the sea.

“Seagrasses only take up a small percentage of global coastal area, but this assessment shows that they’re a dynamic ecosystem for carbon transformation,” said James Fourqurean, the lead author of the paper and a scientist at Florida International University and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site.

The Florida Coastal Everglades LTER site is one of 26 such NSF LTER sites around the world in ecosystems from forests to tundra, coral reefs to barrier islands.

“Seagrasses have the unique ability to continue to store carbon in their roots and soil in coastal seas,” said Fourqurean. “We found places where seagrass beds have been storing carbon for thousands of years.”...."
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