Ocean alkalinity enhancement through restoration of blue carbon ecosystems

Blue carbon ecosystems provide a wide range of ecosystem services, are critical for maintaining marine biodiversity and may potentially serve as sites of economically viable carbon dioxide removal through enhanced organic carbon storage. Here we use biogeochemical simulations to show that restoration of these marine ecosystems can also lead to permanent carbon dioxide removal by driving ocean alkalinity enhancement and atmosphere-to-ocean CO2 fluxes. Most notably, our findings suggest that restoring mangroves, which are common in tropical shallow marine settings, will lead to notable local ocean alkalinity enhancement across a wide range of scenarios. Enhanced alkalinity production is linked to increased rates of anaerobic respiration and to increased dissolution of calcium carbonate within sediments. This work provides further motivation to pursue feasible blue carbon restoration projects and a basis for incorporating inorganic carbon removal in regulatory and economic incentivization of blue carbon ecosystem restoration.

Fakhraee M., Planavsky N. J. & Reinhard C.T., in press. Ocean alkalinity enhancement through restoration of blue carbon ecosystems. Nature Sustainability. Article.

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