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Volume 12, issue 16
Biogeosciences, 12, 4993–5003, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-12-4993-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 12, 4993–5003, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-12-4993-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 24 Aug 2015

Research article | 24 Aug 2015

Seagrass meadows as a globally significant carbonate reservoir

I. Mazarrasa1, N. Marbà1, C. E. Lovelock2, O. Serrano3,4, P. S. Lavery4, J. W. Fourqurean5, H. Kennedy6, M. A. Mateo4,7, D. Krause-Jensen8,9, A. D. L. Steven10, and C. M. Duarte1,11 I. Mazarrasa et al.
  • 1Department of Global Change Research, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB) Institut Mediterrani d'Estudis Avançats, C/Miguel Marqués 21, 07190 Esporles (Mallorca), Spain
  • 2School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, 4072, Australia
  • 3The UWA Oceans Institute, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley 6009, Australia
  • 4School of Natural Sciences, Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup WA 6027, Australia
  • 5Department of Biological Sciences and Southeast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University (FIU), 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, Florida 33199, USA
  • 6School of Ocean Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Askew Street, Menai Bridge, LL59 5AB, UK
  • 7Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Acceso Cala St. Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain
  • 8Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Vejlsøvej 25, 8600 Silkeborg, Denmark
  • 9Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, C.F. Møllers Allé 8, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark
  • 10CSIRO, EcoSciences Precinct, Dutton Park 41 Boggo Road Dutton Park QLD 4102, Australia
  • 11Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal 23955-6900, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Abstract. There has been growing interest in quantifying the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to act as carbon sinks as a natural way of offsetting anthropogenic carbon emissions to the atmosphere. However, most of the efforts have focused on the particulate organic carbon (POC) stocks and accumulation rates and ignored the particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) fraction, despite important carbonate pools associated with calcifying organisms inhabiting the meadows, such as epiphytes and benthic invertebrates, and despite the relevance that carbonate precipitation and dissolution processes have in the global carbon cycle. This study offers the first assessment of the global PIC stocks in seagrass sediments using a synthesis of published and unpublished data on sediment carbonate concentration from 403 vegetated and 34 adjacent un-vegetated sites. PIC stocks in the top 1 m of sediment ranged between 3 and 1660 Mg PIC ha−1, with an average of 654 ± 24 Mg PIC ha−1, exceeding those of POC reported in previous studies by about a factor of 5. Sedimentary carbonate stocks varied across seagrass communities, with meadows dominated by Halodule, Thalassia or Cymodocea supporting the highest PIC stocks, and tended to decrease polewards at a rate of −8 ± 2 Mg PIC ha−1 per degree of latitude (general linear model, GLM; p < 0.0003). Using PIC concentrations and estimates of sediment accretion in seagrass meadows, the mean PIC accumulation rate in seagrass sediments is found to be 126.3 ± 31.05 g PIC m−2 yr−1. Based on the global extent of seagrass meadows (177 000 to 600 000 km2), these ecosystems globally store between 11 and 39 Pg of PIC in the top metre of sediment and accumulate between 22 and 75 Tg PIC yr−1, representing a significant contribution to the carbonate dynamics of coastal areas. Despite the fact that these high rates of carbonate accumulation imply CO2 emissions from precipitation, seagrass meadows are still strong CO2 sinks as demonstrated by the comparison of carbon (PIC and POC) stocks between vegetated and adjacent un-vegetated sediments.

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Short summary
There has been growing interest in quantifying the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to act as carbon sinks as a natural way of offsetting anthropogenic carbon emissions to the atmosphere. However, most of the efforts have focused on the organic fraction and ignored the inorganic carbon pool. This study offers the first global assessment of PIC stocks and accumulation rates in seagrass sediments, identifying these ecosystems as important contributors to carbonate dynamics in coastal areas.
There has been growing interest in quantifying the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to act as...
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