In the quest to hunt for natural carbon storage-capable areas, a study has found that seagrass can store much more carbon than was previously thought. Scientists have known for years that seagrass contain properties that enable them to house large amounts of carbon, but this is the first time that such a comprehensive analysis has been made. According to the new research, coastal seagrass is capable of storing upto to 83,000 metric tons of the element per square kilometer compared to terrestrial forests.
While seagrass is found in just 0.2 percent of oceans, they store as much as 10 percent of all carbon buried annually in marine waters. About 90 percent of the element is stored in the soil that anchors the grass where carbon reserves are created over time. It’s said that some meadows have been collecting and burying carbon for millennia.
The world’s oceans are nature’s way of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. If threatened, the delicate balance may tip against our favor and release large amounts of carbon to add to global warming.
Carbon storage isn’t the only important job that seagrass are engaged in. They also filter sediments that could enter oceans, serve as a habitat for fish and other marine creatures and protect coastlines from storms.
What is important now is to check and curb human activities that threaten the existence of seagrass. Water pollution and dredging have already damaged the ecosystem with about 1.5 percent of seagrass meadows destroyed every year. If the trend continues, we will soon witness carbon being emitted into the atmosphere at a rapid rate. Aside from health concerns, the trend will see fishes without their natural habitats and more storms ravaging coastlines than what is being witnessed at present.
The extensive study was led by Florida International University’s James Fourqurean and included participants from the United Kingdom, Spain, Virginia, Denmark and Greece.