[ASC-media] UTS Researcher joins International Scientific Working Group assessing "blue" carbon.

Marea Martlew Marea.Martlew at uts.edu.au
Wed Mar 2 05:53:02 CET 2011

Seagrass Blue is the new black

A "Blue Carbon" International Scientific Working Group has been formed to assess the potential, and value, of coastal ecosystems as carbon sinks.

 Coastal vegetation such as seagrasses, mangroves and salt-marsh store carbon in their biomass and surrounding sediments.

UTS seagrass expert Professor Peter Ralph, one of only three Australian scientists invited to join the group, believes innovative techniques developed at UTS can help quantify the enormous potential of the, often overlooked, role of ocean ecosystems in climate change mitigation.

 "Compared to terrestrial habitats these coastal systems represent very large, long term carbon sinks... As we reclaim, degrade and destroy coastal environments not only do we impact marine health we also release carbon that has been fixed for thousands of years back into the atmosphere. At the moment this so called 'blue carbon' isn't incorporated into any national greenhouse inventories and we don't know the extent or effectiveness of these sinks," Prof Peter Ralph said.

The "Blue Carbon International Scientific Working Group, newly formed under the auspices of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, United Nations Environmental Program and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission,  will assess the feasibility of coastal "blue" carbon as a conservation and management tool and its potential for climate change mitigation. Professor Ralph, regarded as a world leader in the measurement of photosynthetic processes in seagrasses, will lead a UTS team drawn from The Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster (C3) and UTS Faculty of Science.

"At the moment techniques used to measure the amount of carbon in marine sediments are not that sensitive, it can take five to ten years of measurements to get a picture of how much carbon a seagrass meadow is storing and losing. My team will be using innovative techniques to measure carbon fluxes over the shorter term so we get a better and earlier understanding of how quickly carbon pool size changes in response to environmental stressors," Professor Ralph said.

Over the next two years the Working Group will identify coastal carbon hotspots, highlighting those that are threatened and those that need protection.

For more information contact:

Professor Peter Ralph                                                                    Marea Martlew, C3 Media Officer
Executive Director                                                                           +61 2 0514 1766
Plant Functional Biology                                                                +61 424735255
and Climate Change Cluster (C3)      or
Peter.Ralph at uts.edu.au<mailto:Peter.Ralph at uts.edu.au>
+61 2 9514 4070
+61 412 323 358


UTS CRICOS Provider Code: 00099F
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