The role of seaweed in the global carbon cycle • Earth.com

The role of seaweed in the global carbon cycle

12-10-2019


The role of seaweed in the global carbon cycle Today’s Video of the Day from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) describes new research which suggests that the role of seaweed in the global carbon cycle has been underestimated. 

The researchers studied the DNA of seaweed, also known as macroalgae, and discovered that diverse species drift as far as 5,000 kilometers beyond coastal areas. Around 70 percent of this seaweed will sink to the depths of the ocean below 1,000 meters, taking the carbon that it has captured along with it. 

“This finding has huge implications for how the global carbon dioxide budget is calculated,” said study first author and PhD student Alejandra Ortega. “It indicates that macroalgae are important for carbon sequestration and should be included in assessments of carbon accumulated in the ocean, known as blue carbon.” Blue carbon is the term for carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems. Sea grasses, mangroves, salt marshes, and other systems along our coast are very efficient in storing CO2. These areas also absorb and store carbon at a much faster rate than other areas, such as forests, and can continue to do so for millions of years.

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

Video Credit: KAUST

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