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Sea Grant and Coastal Blue Carbon

Blue carbon refers to carbon that is being stored in coastal and marine ecosystems. Coastal wetlands characterized by an abundance of saltmarsh, mangroves or seagrass are particularly important for sequestering carbon in the sediment and biomass. Around the country, in a diversity of these types of habitats, Sea Grant is hard at work unlocking the mysteries of these systems and how they affect the dynamics of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. The findings of Sea Grant-supported researchers contribute to the knowledge of resource managers and other decision-makers so they can be more informed about conservation and restoration options appropriate for a changing world.

 

Virginia's eastern shore on Oct 11, 2019. (Photo by Aileen Devlin | Virginia Sea Grant)

Featured Blue Carbon Impacts

Meet Sea Grant Experts in Blue Carbon


Juliet Simpson, Ph.D.

Juliet Simpson, Ph.D.

Coastal Ecologist, MIT Sea Grant - Dr. Simpson works with partners at EPA to estimate carbon stored in Massachusetts seagrass beds.


“Different species of seagrass and types of meadows make a huge difference in how much carbon is stored. In the research we’re doing, we’re really trying to focus on what kind of meadow promotes more carbon sequestration.”

Robert Twilley, Ph.D.

Robert Twilley, Ph.D.

Director, Louisiana Sea Grant - Dr. Twilley’s team estimated that globally, mangrove forests store some 3 billion metric tons of carbon, on average storing three to five times more carbon than upland tropical forests.


“If you damage a mangrove forest with a large carbon stock, you may change the carbon flux from a sink to a source of carbon to the atmosphere. That is why mangrove conservation and restoration are so important.”

Savanna Barry, Ph.D.

Savanna Barry, Ph.D.

Nature Coast Regional Specialized Sea Grant Agent, Florida Sea Grant - Dr. Barry has studied Thalassia testudinum–commonly known as turtlegrass—to better understand the factors influencing the carbon found in the sediments beneath seagrass meadows.


“Not all seagrass meadows are created equal when it comes to carbon sequestration—species with larger rhizomes and meadows growing in more depositional settings will generally store more carbon. However, all seagrasses serve a broad suite of functions and provide many valuable services in addition to blue carbon storage.”

Blue Carbon Stories and News

Green Eelgrass, Blue Carbon

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Green Eelgrass, Blue Carbon

Understanding the role of eelgrass in climate change

Understanding the role that eelgrass ecosystems play in preparing for and mitigating the effects of climate change provides an opportunity to secure protection and restoration resources. MIT Sea Grant worked with several partners in Massachusetts to quantify the carbon storage of eelgrass beds. 

Research Informs Management of Phragmites in Marshes

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Research Informs Management of Phragmites in Marshes

Maryland Sea Grant

Maryland’s coastal wetlands provide diverse ecosystem services for the Chesapeake Bay region, reduce flooding risks, and help to improve local water quality. These natural communities, however, also face threats from rising sea levels and invasive species. Of particular concern is the non-native reed Phragmites australis, which has displaced native marsh grasses in many Mid-Atlantic wetlands in recent decades. To inform the management of this invasive reed, Maryland Sea Grant funded research to better understand how climate change might affect the growth of Phragmites populations around Chesapeake Bay.

Science Serving America's Coasts

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