Have You Heard about Blue Carbon Ecosystems?

Have You Heard about Blue Carbon Ecosystems? zonaebt.com
  • Blue carbon is one of the most important natural carbon sinks, yet it is also typically the least discussed. generally thought of as biotic systems that take in carbon.
  • Coastal blue carbon habitats are among the most endangered ecosystems on the globe, notwithstanding their importance. They are being lost or degraded four times as quickly as tropical forests, and climate change poses a threat to expedite these losses.
  • The Blue Carbon Initiative is now concentrating its efforts on carbon in coastal environments like mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrasses.

Blue carbon is the form of carbon that is stored in marine and coastal environments. Coastal habitats like mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrasses are the present focus of the Blue Carbon Initiative’s attention to carbon. Large amounts of blue carbon are stored in the plants and the sediment below in these environments through sequestration and storage. In seagrass meadows, for instance, the soils hold more than 95% of the carbon.

Even though blue carbon is one of the most significant natural carbon sinks, it is frequently the least talked about. Commonly regarded as carbon-absorbing biotic systems are continental forests, savanna grasslands, and tropical rainforests. While each of these habitats is significant, blue carbon ecosystems are particularly crucial for absorbing and storing carbon. 

Healthy blue carbon ecosystems support fish stocks and food security, sustain coastal people and livelihoods, filter water entering our oceans and reef systems, and shield coastlines from erosion and storm surges. They also provide habitat for marine organisms. They cover over 49 million hectares and can be found on all continents except Antarctica.

Despite their significance, coastal blue carbon habitats are among the planet’s most endangered ecosystems. Four times as quickly as tropical forests, they are being destroyed or degraded, and climate change poses a threat to hasten these losses. Since the 19th century, the pre-industrial, natural expanse of coastal wetlands has decreased by almost 50%. Depending on the kind of habitat, losses are currently predicted to range from 0.5 to 3% annually. 

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For nations with substantial coastlines and small fossil fuel emissions, blue carbon nevertheless plays a part. Mangroves reduced national fossil fuel emissions by more than 1% in 2014 for nations including Bangladesh, Colombia, and Nigeria. Suggested that mangrove blue carbon, along with other blue carbon ecosystems, may occasionally contribute to mitigating climate change at this scale, given that the Paris Agreement is predicated on nationally set commitments. 

The so-called blue carbon ecosystems, which include mangroves, tidal and salt marshes, and seagrasses, will also be briefly detailed below.

Illustration of mangrove forest. Source: www.gettyimages.com.
  1. Mangrove

An ecosystem’s significance can be difficult to comprehend, especially one that only covers 0.1% of the planet’s surface. It is simple to understand the significance of tropical rainforests, which are found within the mangroves’ distribution range. Compared to tropical rainforests, which can only absorb slightly more than 2 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per hectare. 

Mature mangrove forests can absorb 6 to 8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per hectare. The world’s most effective natural carbon sink is the mangrove forest. Mangroves become an unexpected environmental powerhouse when you consider that tropical rainforests are the terrestrial woods that absorb the most CO2. Mangrove forests are being preserved and regenerated in tropical ecosystems around the world to help safeguard local surroundings and lower carbon emissions.

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Illustration of tidal marshes. Source: www.gettyimages.com.
  1. Tidal Marshes

Tidal marshes are essential coastal habitats, just as mangroves. They offer observable advantages for the local food, land, and water security. Marshes are found along rivers and tidally-influenced beaches that flood. These places serve as an essential wildlife ecosystem for migrating birds, fish, shellfish, and other marine species while also aiding in the filtration of pollutants, maintaining the quality of the water in coastal areas. Another coastal biological hotspot known as tidal marshes plays a significant role in carbon absorption.

Illustration of seagrasses. Source: www.gettyimages.com.
  1. Seagrasses

Another essential ecosystem that affects local and global surroundings much more than was previously believed is the seagrass community. Seagrasses, which are distinct from seaweed and resemble its namesake on land, are the only flowering plants that thrive in marine conditions. Seagrasses, which are found in temperate and tropical waters, aid in stabilizing the substrate, offer refuge to fish and other animals, and serve as the main food supply for marine mammals like dugongs and manatees.

It’s critical to consider blue carbon ecosystems as well since they not only prevent climate change but also protect coastal communities from its negative effects, such as floods and rising sea levels, and serve as vital habitats for marine species.

References:

[1] What is Blue Carbon and How Does it Help Climate Change?

[2] Blue Carbon

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