Tuesday May 28, 2024

The Conversation

Deep in the ocean lies the world’s largest active carbon reservoir, which plays a pivotal role in buffering our planet’s climate. Of the roughly 10 billion tonnes carbon dioxide we emit each year, about 3 billion tonnes are taken up and stored in the oceans – and largely by plants.

When we consider natural carbon storage in the deep oceans, we generally focus on phytoplankton. Trillions of these microscopic plants live in the surface waters all across the oceans. When they die, they sink to the ocean floor, transporting carbon to the depths.

But there’s a missing piece of the puzzle. Our two new studies show coastal vegetation such as seaweed forests are more important to natural carbon storage than we thought. Around 56 million tonnes of carbon in the form of seaweed is carried into the deep ocean each year.

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