Home  |  Top News  |  Most Popular  |  Video  |  Multimedia  |  News Feeds  |  Feedback
  Medicine  |  Nature & Earth  |  Biology  |  Technology & Engineering  |  Space & Planetary  |  Psychology  |  Physics & Chemistry  |  Economics  |  Archaeology
Top > Nature & Earth > Destroyed Coastal Habitats Produce Significant… >
Destroyed Coastal Habitats Produce Significant Greenhouse Gas

Published: September 6, 2012.
By Duke University
http://www.duke.edu

DURHAM, N.C. -- Destruction of coastal habitats may release as much as 1 billion tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere each year, 10 times higher than previously reported, according to a new Duke led study.

Published online this week in PLOS ONE, the analysis provides the most comprehensive estimate of global carbon emissions from the loss of these coastal habitats to date: 0.15 to 1.2 billion tons. It suggests there is a high value associated with keeping these coastal-marine ecosystems intact as the release of their stored carbon costs roughly $6-$42 billion annually.

"On the high end of our estimates, emissions are almost as much as the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the world's fifth-largest emitter, Japan," said Brian Murray, director for economic analysis at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. "This means we have previously ignored a source of greenhouse gas emissions that could rival the emissions of many developed nations."

This carbon, captured through biological processes and stored in the sediment below mangroves, sea grasses and salt marshes, is called "blue carbon." When these wetlands are drained and destroyed, the sediment layers below begin to oxidize. Once this soil, which can be many feet deep, is exposed to air or ocean water it releases carbon dioxide over days or years.

"There's so little data out there on how much carbon might be released when these ecosystems are disturbed," said Oregon State University's Daniel Donato, co-lead author of the paper. "With this analysis we tried to reduce some of that uncertainty by identifying some 'bookends' that represent the lowest and highest probable emissions, given the information available."

The PLOS ONE study looked at the potentially massive amount of carbon tucked away from the atmosphere by the slow accretion, over hundreds to thousands of years, of soils beneath these habitats. Previous work in the area has focused only on the amount of carbon stored in these systems and not what happens when these systems are degraded or destroyed and the stored carbon is released.

"These coastal ecosystems are a tiny ribbon of land, only 6 percent of the land area covered by tropical forest, but the emissions from their destruction are nearly one-fifth of those attributed to deforestation worldwide," said Linwood Pendleton, the study's co-lead author and director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute. "One hectare, or roughly two acres of coastal marsh, can contain the same amount of carbon as 488 cars produce in a year. Comparatively, destroying a hectare of mangroves could produce as much greenhouse gas emissions as cutting down three to five hectares of tropical forest."

The critical role of these ecosystems for carbon sequestration has been overlooked, the study said. These coastal habitats could be protected and climate change combated if a system—much like what is being done to protect trees through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)—were implemented. Such a policy would assign credits to carbon stored in these habitats and provide economic incentive if they are left intact.

"Blue carbon ecosystems provide a plethora of benefits to humans: they support fisheries, buffer coasts from floods and storms, and filter coastal waters from pollutants," said Emily Pidgeon, senior director of Strategic Marine Initiatives at Conservation International and co-chair of the Blue Carbon Initiative. "Economic incentives to reverse these losses may help preserve these benefits and serve as a viable part of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and address climate change."


Show Reference »


Translate this page: Chinese French German Italian Japanese Korean Portuguese Russian Spanish


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ScienceNewsline.
Related »

Carbon 
4/19/13 
Nitrogen Has Key Role in Estimating CO2 Emissions from Land Use Change
By University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new global-scale modeling study that takes into account nitrogen – a key nutrient for plants – estimates that carbon emissions from human activities on land …
Forest 
6/11/13 

Wood Not So Green a Biofuel
By Dartmouth College
Carbon 
10/24/11 
Production of Biofuel from Forests Will Increase Greenhouse Emissions
By Oregon State University
The largest and most comprehensive study yet done on the effect of biofuel production from West Coast forests has concluded that an emphasis on bioenergy would increase carbon dioxide …
Wood 
5/14/12 
Time, Place And How Wood Is Used Are Factors in Carbon Emissions from Deforestation
By University of California - Davis
A new study from the University of California, Davis, provides a deeper understanding of the complex global impacts of deforestation on greenhouse gas emissions. The study, published May …
Forests 
4/14/14 
Nutrient-rich Forests Absorb More Carbon
By International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers including the …
Climate 
9/25/13 

Plants Can Change Greenhouse Gas Emissions After Warming
By Lancaster University
Carbon 
11/9/12 
Texas A&M Forest Expert: Forest Fertilization Can Increase Production, Decrease Carbon Emissions
By Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
COLLEGE STATION – Fertilizing one's lawn is considered a necessary practice, as is with most agricultural crops. But how many people know about fertilizing a commercial forest, and how …
Emissions 
2/28/11 
★★★★ 
Hotspots of Carbon Confusion in Indonesia Threaten to Warm the World More Quickly
By World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
Indonesia has promised to become a world leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2009, the president committed to a 26% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to …
Carbon 
7/12/11 

Plants in Cities Are an Underestimated Carbon Store
By Wiley-Blackwell
Ecosystems 
1/9/12 

Team Finds a Better Way to Gauge the Climate Costs of Land Use Changes
By University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
More » 

Most Popular - Nature »
NUCLEAR »
Is Nuclear Power the Only Way to Avoid Geoengineering?
DROUGHT »
NASA Satellites Show Drought May Take Toll on Congo Rainforest
CARBON »
Amazon Rainforest Survey Could Improve Carbon Offset Schemes
Carbon offsetting initiatives could be improved with new insights into the make-up of tropical forests, a study suggests. Scientists studying the Amazon Basin have revealed unprecedented detail of …
CATTLE »
Remote Surveillance May Increase Chance of Survival for 'Uncontacted' Brazilian Tribes
VENTS »
How Productive Are the Ore Factories in the Deep Sea?
About ten years after the first moon landing, scientists on earth made a discovery that proved that our home planet still holds a lot of surprises in store for …
ScienceNewsline  |  About  |  Privacy Policy  |  Feedback  |  Mobile  |  Japanese
The selection and placement of stories are determined automatically by a computer program. All contents are copyright of their owners except U.S. Government works. U.S. Government works are assumed to be in the public domain unless otherwise noted. Everything else copyright ScienceNewsline.