Combating Climate Change With Seagrass

Written by on May 28, 2015 in Marine Life, Other Marine Life

New research from the University of York reveals that seagrass ecosystems could play a key role in combating climate change, but first we need to stop populations from declining.

Seagrass. Photo credit: NOAA.

Seagrass. Photo credit: NOAA.

Seagrass habitats, which sustain marine life like turtles and dugongs, and help protect shorelines from damaging waves and erosion, are experiencing “rapid global decline.” Much of the decline is due to human disturbance — seagrasses are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance because they thrive in shallow coastal areas.

Currently, 24 percent of seagrass species are classified as threatened or near threatened, yet, according to the University of York, there are no functioning seagrass restoration or conservation projects underway.

Because seagrass meadows can store large amounts of carbon, researchers say this lack of effort represents “both a serious oversight and a major missed opportunity.”

“Seagrass meadows could play a vital role in combating climate change as they are regarded as a net global sink for carbon,” PhD student and lead author Adam Hejnowicz explained in a news release. They can bury significant amounts of carbon beneath the seafloor.

The main problem, Hejnowicz said, “is that seagrasses are still not properly and adequately accounted for in formal carbon climate policies.”

The researchers are urging the international community to acknowledge the potential of seagrass in combating climate change and advocating for incentive-based carbon management.

To learn more:

Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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  1. Tyler says:

    Though this could be a solution, nearby reefs are prone to bleaching when high levels of carbon are present. How exactly do they store the carbon?
    And could this be a threat to the reefs?

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