Monday, November 23, 2009

Coastal Ecosystems a Powerful Carbon Sink

We know that coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes and sea grass provide valuable environmental services such as protection against storms and floods, filtration of pollutants, and crucial fishery breeding grounds.

However, says Conservation International's Emily Pidgeon, it turns out that they are also quite powerful carbon sinks -- absorbing the heat-trapping gas, carbon dioxide (CO2) and storing the carbon deep in sediments:

PIDGEON: (One) way that plants sequester carbon is by burying it in the soil or the sediment below them. And these marine plants, or marine ecosystems, seem to be incredibly effective at the second type of carbon sequestration. This burying it in the sediment below them.

LIVING ON EARTH: Why is that?

PIDGEON: There's a couple different ways they do it. The two main ones are they have these incredibly deep root systems. If you can imagine they're all living in the sort of tidal or wave dominated part of the coast and they're holding on for dear life with these deep root systems. And it's through this deep root systems that they can pull carbon out of either the water or the air and then pump it down in to the sediment and push it out. There is also these areas that are really good for capturing sediment that is in the shallow water, and by doing that that settles down and also captures lot of carbon that way.

More good reason to protect and restore these valuable ecosystems...

Listen to the Living on Earth Story>>

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