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Seminar: Nathan McTigue, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science – NOAA
February 21 @ 3:35 pm - 4:35 pm
Presenter Affiliation: National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, NOAA in Beaufort, NC
Title: Revisiting the blueprints for blue carbon: can salt marsh carbon sequestration mitigate climate change?
Abstract: Ecosystems that naturally remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere have received increased attention as a “natural fix” to mitigate the causes of climate change. Coastal wetlands, including salt marshes, have a pronounced ability not only to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide but also to bury and store that carbon in the form of plant organic matter in below ground sediments for long time scales (centuries to millennia). These stocks are referred to as “blue carbon”. The focus of this talk will be on North Carolina marshes where carbon accumulation rates were measured over recent decades to the past three millennia. The function of carbon accumulation rate co-varies with sea level rise over the past millennia, which provides evidence for enhanced carbon burial for salt marshes given sufficient sediment supply. However, despite current accelerating sea level rise, rates of long-term carbon dioxide sequestration by salt marshes are fractional compared to the vast quantity emitted from fossil fuel combustion.