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Seaweed ecosystems may not mitigate CO2 emissions


Gallagher, JB and Shelamoff, V and Layton, C, Seaweed ecosystems may not mitigate CO2 emissions, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 79, (3) pp. 585-592. ISSN 1054-3139 (2022) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

DOI: doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsac011


Global seaweed carbon sequestration estimates are currently taken as the fraction of the net primary production (NPP) exported to the deep ocean. However, this perspective does not account for CO2 from the consumption of external subsidies. Here, we clarify: (i) the role of export relative to seaweed net ecosystem production (NEP) for a closed system and one more likely open to subsidies; (ii) the importance of subsidies by compiling published estimates of NEP from seaweed-dominated ecosystems; and (iii) discuss their impact on the global seaweed net carbon balance and other sequestration constraints as a mitigation service. Examples of seaweed NEP (n = 18) were sparse and variable. Nevertheless, the average NEP (−4.0 mmol C m–2 d–1 SE ± 12.2) suggested that seaweed ecosystems are a C source, becoming increasingly heterotrophic as their export is consumed. Critically, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions was mixed relative to their replacement or baseline states, and where CO2 is supplied independently of organic metabolism and atmospheric exchange, we caution a sole reliance on NEP or NPP. This will ensure a more accurate seaweed mitigation assessment, one that does exceed their capacity and is effective within a compliance and carbon trading scheme.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:seaweed, carbon sequestration, carbon mitigation, golden carbon, net ecosystem production, seaweed aquaculture, subsidies
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Carbon sequestration science
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Mitigation of climate change
Objective Field:Climate change mitigation strategies
UTAS Author:Gallagher, JB (Dr John Barry Gallagher)
UTAS Author:Shelamoff, V (Dr Victor Shelamoff)
UTAS Author:Layton, C (Dr Cayne Layton)
ID Code:148801
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2022-02-11
Last Modified:2022-10-17

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