Oceana is reporting seaweed could be scrubbing way more carbon from the atmosphere than we expected:
If you’ve even eaten sushi, you know that seaweed goes great with rice and fish. But recent research suggests that seaweed is more than just a culinary partner — it could be an overlooked ally in the fight against climate change. By dying and drifting down to the deep sea, seaweeds like kelp may sequester more carbon than all other marine plants combined.
That’s a big deal, because saltwater plants like mangroves and seagrasses are well-known dynamos when it comes to storing carbon. Per acre, these “blue carbon” ecosystems can take up 20 times more CO2 from the atmosphere than land-based forests. The secret to their carbon-storing success lies not in the plants, but in the rich muck they grow in. As marine plants grow and die, their leaves, roots, stems and branches wind up buried in underwater sediments. These low-oxygen sediments can store carbon for decades or longer.
Seaweeds, on the other hand, were long ignored as a carbon sink. These algae grow on rocky surfaces where their fronds can’t be buried in soil or sediment. Some species even have air bladders that make them less likely to sink. Seaweed cells are soft and easy to digest, so they are more likely to be eaten by animals or broken down by bacteria. Digestion or decomposition releases seaweeds’ stored carbon back into the air or water, where it reacts with oxygen to become CO2.
But a study published in Nature Geoscience found that our assumptions about seaweed could be wrong. The study estimated that about 11 percent of total seaweed production may be sequestered, most of it after it sinks down into the deep sea.
Read the full story from Oceana here.