On average, eelgrass meadows store 27.2 tons of organic carbon per hectare. The high carbon storage capacity of eelgrass meadows urges for the protection and restoration of this unique ecosystem, a coordinated researcher network argues.
Protection and Restoration of Eelgrass Meadows is Needed
In a new study spanning coastal areas of the Northern Hemisphere, a coordinated researcher network explored the magnitude of organic carbon stocks stored and sequestered by eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows — the most abundant seagrass species in temperate waters. The scientists discovered that eelgrass organic carbon stocks were comparable to organic carbon stocks of tropical seagrass species, as well as mangroves, saltmarshes and terrestrial ecosystems.
On average, eelgrass meadows stored 27.2 tons of organic carbon per hectare, although the variation between the regions was considerable (from three to 265 tons per hectare). Hotspots for carbon sequestration were identified especially in the Kattegat-Skagerrak region, and southern parts of the Baltic Sea where the organic carbon stocks were over eight times higher, than in the Archipelago Sea of Finland. The high carbon storage capacity of eelgrass meadows urges for the protection and restoration of this unique ecosystem. Especially in the areas with the highest carbon stock capacity, they deserve recognition as part of global carbon marketing programmes, the scientists argue.
Higher Carbon Storage Capacity than Forests
Terrestrial forests are well known for their capacity to store carbon (green carbon), while the so-called blue carbon stored and sequestered by coastal vegetated ecosystems, such as mangroves, saltmarshes, macroalgae and seagrasses, have received much less attention. Although they cover only 0.5 % of the seafloor, their carbon storage capacity accounts for more than 55 % of the carbon stored by photosynthetic activity on Earth.
The photo on the top: Arriba blog
Original article “Blue carbon storage capacity of temperate eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows” published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles.