Understanding THE ROLE OF KELP IN CLimate change mitigation
Live Ocean Foundation is supporting Dr Caitlin Blain from the University of Auckland to investigate how kelp forests contribute to coastal carbon cycles. The work will help researchers understand the role of kelp forests in climate change mitigation and provides an exciting potential opportunity for quantifying and valuing blue carbon.
Kelp forests are highly productive and while they provide important stores of carbon, the long-term fate of the majority of carbon fixed (turned into organic compounds) by kelp is unknown.
For example, up to 62% of carbon fixed by kelp is released as dissolved organic carbon back into the water column, yet it is not known what happens to it. A large proportion may stay in dissolved organic compounds. This carbon is not released back into the atmosphere, with kelp having a greater role in carbon cycles than previously thought.
This new research combines ecophysiology, chemistry and microbiology to advance our understanding of the importance of this dissolved organic carbon in global carbon cycles and provide more realistic estimates of the contribution of kelp to blue carbon budgets.
“Kelps are extremely efficient at fixing carbon, but our research has demonstrated that only a small proportion of this carbon is stored in kelp forests, with much of it being released back into the ocean. This research will help us understand the long-term fate of this “lost” carbon and the role of kelp forests in climate change mitigation”
DR CAITLIN BLAIN