Calculating the global contribution of coralline algae to carbon burial

van der Heijden, L. H. and Kamenos, N. A. (2015) Calculating the global contribution of coralline algae to carbon burial. Biogeosciences, 12(10), pp. 7845-7877. (doi:10.5194/bgd-12-7845-2015)

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Abstract

The ongoing increase in anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is changing the global marine environment and is causing warming and acidification of the oceans. Reduction of CO2 to a sustainable level is required to avoid further marine change. Many studies investigate the potential of marine carbon sinks (e.g. seagrass) to mitigate anthropogenic emissions, however, information on storage by coralline algae and the beds they create is scant. Calcifying photosynthetic organisms, including coralline algae, can act as a CO2 sink via photosynthesis and CaCO3 dissolution and act as a CO2 source during respiration and CaCO3 production on short-term time scales. Long-term carbon storage potential might come from the accumulation of coralline algae deposits over geological time scales. Here, the carbon storage potential of coralline algae is assessed using meta-analysis of their global organic and inorganic carbon production and the processes involved in this metabolism. Organic and inorganic production were estimated at 330 g C m−2 yr−1 and 880 g CaCO3 m−2 yr−1 respectively giving global organic/inorganic C production of 0.7/1.8 × 109 t C yr−1. Calcium carbonate production by free-living/crustose coralline algae (CCA) corresponded to a sediment accretion of 70/450 mm kyr−1. Using this potential carbon storage by coralline algae, the global production of free-living algae/CCA was 0.4/1.2 × 109 t C yr−1 suggesting a total potential carbon sink of 1.6 × 109 t C yr−1. Coralline algae therefore have production rates similar to mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrasses representing an as yet unquantified but significant carbon store, however, further empirical investigations are needed to determine the dynamics and stability of that store.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kamenos, Dr Nicholas
Authors: van der Heijden, L. H., and Kamenos, N. A.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Biogeosciences
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
ISSN:1726-4170
ISSN (Online):1726-4189
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in Biogeosciences Discussions 12(10):7845-7877
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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