Monday, September 12, 2016

The Significance of Seaweed

Marine macroalgae remove large amounts of atmospheric carbon

Intertidal macroalgae on the coast of Greenland. (Credit: © 2016 KAUST)  Click to Enlarge.
Our understanding of the global carbon cycle has been reshaped by KAUST researchers who have helped to reveal a major role for the abundance of seaweed growing around the world's coasts.

Some years ago, Carlos Duarte, now director of the Red Sea Research Center at KAUST, was among the first scientists to establish that marine vegetation plays a major role in the movement of carbon through the environment and all living organisms.  The dominant players in the waters of coastal zones are macroalgae - more commonly known as seaweeds, such as kelp and sargassum.

Now Duarte and Dorte Krause-Jensen from Aarhus University in Denmark have reviewed and quantified the role of macroalgae in trapping carbon.  Their estimate is a highly significant 173 trillion grams of carbon sequestered in coastal seaweed, globally, per year.

"Marine macroalgae have largely been excluded from discussion of marine carbon sinks," says Duarte.  He explains that this is due to neglecting the accumulation of macroalgae in deep-sea sediments.  His latest review suggests that around 90 percent of global sequestration of carbon by macroalgae could be due to the transport of this vegetation into the deep sea.

Read more at The Significance of Seaweed

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