Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blue Carbon – The Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon

Oceans play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. Not only do they represent the largest long-term sink for carbon but they also store and redistribute CO2. Some 93% of the earth’s CO2 (40 Tt) is stored and cycled through the oceans.

Blue CarbonThe ocean’s vegetated habitats, in particular mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses, cover <0.5%>

The rate of loss of these marine ecosystems is much higher than any other ecosystem on the planet – in some instances up to four times that of rainforests. Currently, on average, between 2–7% of our blue carbon sinks are lost annually, a seven-fold increase compared to only half a century ago. If more action is not taken to sustain these vital ecosystems, most may be lost within two decades. Halting degradation and restoring both the lost marine carbon sinks in the oceans and slowing deforestation of the tropical forests on land could result in mitigating emissions by up to 25%.

Sustaining blue carbon sinks will be crucial for ecosystem-based adaptation strategies that reduce vulnerability of human coastal communities to climate change. Halting the decline of ocean and coastal ecosystems would also generate economic revenue, food security and improve livelihoods in the coastal zone. It would also provide major economic and development opportunities for coastal communities around the world…

“Out of all the biological carbon captured in the world, over half is captured by marine living organisms hence it is called blue carbon.”

“The objective of this report is to highlight the critical role of the oceans and ocean ecosystems in maintaining our climate and in assisting policy makers to mainstream an oceans agenda into national and international climate change initiatives.”

Read/download the entire report here: