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Seagrasses Can Store Twice as Much Carbon as Forests

Published June 5, 2012 in We Love Gaia, What's New |

This is not the first time we have heard about this, but it is the first global analysis of how much carbon is stored by seagrasses: According to new research, published in Nature Geosciences, seagrasses can store up to twice as much carbon per square kilometre as above ground forests.

In terms of numbers, coastal seagrasses can store 83,000 metric tonnes of carbon per square kilometre, versus 30,000 tonnes for a typical forest. Furthermore, though seagrasses occur in just 0.2% of the world’s oceans, they are responsible for storing over 10% of all the carbon buried annually in the ocean. 90% of the carbon storied by seagrasses is sequestered in the soil anchoring the grass, where it can form carbon stores several meters deep. In some cases these seagrass meadows have been accumulating carbon for thousands of years.

The paper finds that 29% of all historic seagrass meadows have been destroyed, primarily due to dredging and water pollution, with 1.5% of seagrass meadows destroyed each year. Should this continue, the destruction of these meadows will result in carbon emissions one-quarter as great as deforestation.

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