Numerous groups have strategically launched new reports regarding the capture, conservation, and capitalization of carbon on our coasts. Just in time for the climate menagerie in Mexico: COP16.
World Bank, ICUN, the Nicholas Institute at Duke University, and a new Blue Climate Coalition are laying material on the table — and the web. You can access the new Blue Carbon policy brief from Duke and read about the Blue Climate Coalition here. The World Bank and IUCN put our their own report on building mitigation and adaptation for carbon-rich coasts. If you were able to read Dan Laffoly’s (IUCN) eloquent New York Times Op-Ed last January, this report provides some great follow-up and substance.
The World Bank, together with IUCN and ESA PWA, announces the release of a brief for decision-makers entitled, “Capturing and Conserving Natural Coastal Carbon – Building mitigation, advancing adaptation.” This information brief highlights the crucial importance of carbon sequestered in coastal wetlands and submerged vegetated habitats like seagrass beds for climate change mitigation.
Coastal wetlands, such as mangroves, tidal flats and salt marshes, along with seagrass beds sequester large amounts of carbon within their plants and especially in the soil. However, degradation of these habitats–as a result of drainage, conversion and reclamation–can result in substantial and ongoing emissions of greenhouse gases.
However, these natural carbon sinks and the emissions resulting from their degradation and loss remain largely unaccounted for within the UNFCCC. Restoring degraded wetlands–in particular deltas which are subsiding as a result of natural geomorphology, human disturbance to the hydrological cycle, and sea level rise–can reverse the loss of these sinks and reverse the release of GHGs to the atmosphere. Protecting these natural carbon stores in the first place prevents the rapid loss of carbon that immediately follows disturbance, as well and preserving has substantial co-benefits for adaptation to climate change in terms of reducing the physical vulnerability of shorelines and increasing the social and economic resilience of coastal communities through positive impacts on livelihoods and food security.
Recognizing the role and value of coastal wetlands and seagrass beds under the Climate Convention will contribute to a global approach to natural carbon management.
The brief is based on the findings of a larger report by Crooks et al, which will be presented at a side event at the UNFCCC COP-16 in Cancun on Wednesday, December 1, 11:30—1:00pm, Cancun Messe, Jaguar. This side-event, organized by Conservation International and IUCN, is entitled ‘Blue Carbon: Valuing CO2 Mitigation by Coastal Marine Systems. Sequestration of Carbon Along Our Coasts: Are We Missing Major Sinks and Sources?’.
The focus needs to be broadened beyond whales. Ocean habitats are continually overlooked by the global community as viable sites of carbon sequestration. Blue carbon – as some call it – is a new concept being researched by the NGO community and receiving blog hits. The New York Times has even taken notice. Three months ago, Dan Laffoley of IUCN wrote a wonderful NYT op-ed entitled, To Save the Planet, Save the Seas. Read it.
In short, blue carbon emphasizes the key role of marine and coastal ecosystems. It places value on carbon-rich marine vegetation such as mangrove forests, seagrass, brackish marshes and salt marshes. Coastal and marine ecosystems are believed to be able to complement the role of forests in taking up carbon emissions through sequestration.
See our related posts on this here, here and here.
This is a management area that was greatly overlooked in Copenhagen. It’s a concept to which the UN and coastal nations ought to give more attention. Island nations rich in blue carbon, like Indonesia, could benefit similarly to the way Brazil is predicted to benefit from “green carbon” sequestration programs, like REDD.
In my opinion, blue carbon sequestration programs will need new research, the right political advocates, and better governance. The question I pose to you marine scientists/environmental managers/policy makers: Where to start?]]>
Thanks to the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, the TRT is legally mandated. Its implementation does not meant that it is too late to mitigate our affects on this population. Afterall, the Pacific longline fishery is use to being highly regulated. To its credit, it has adopted a suite of bycatch reducing technologies that have proven to minimize the take of threatened species (ie. side setting and streamers to reduce albatross take). But the recent drop in this distinct poplulation is truly shocking; from more than 500 in 1989, only 100 individuals remain. Our behavioral changes will have to be significant.
If you’re equally as shocked, read on: http://honoluluweekly.com/cover/2010/02/truth-or-consequences/
I was recently in Honolulu at the longline fishery’s main market. I snapped this photo of Sean Martin, my guide around the market. He is the owner of several longline fishing boats, president of the Hawaii Longline Association, to which the owners of all of Hawaii’s 125 longliners belong, and co-owner with Jim Cook, another past Wespac chairman, of Pacific Ocean Producers, the Pacific’s biggest fisheries-supply company.
Sean’s on the TRT as well and has a lot to lose. The longliners, Hawaii’s largest commercial fishery, bring in about $60 million a year.]]>
Dr. John Bruno introduced me to NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch website last year. It’s a online tool for tracking global sea surface temperature data in real-time. But, really, all you need is an affinity for color scales to find it useful. Reddish areas on the map mean corals beware; temperatures are unusually high. For sleep deprived master’s students, pretty colors are easier on the eyes that plotted regressions.
But what about temperatures, say, a quarter mile beneath the surface? There are no user-friendly websites or pretty maps for tracking anomalous temperatures in deeper waters. Little light reaches to this depth and it is nearly impossible for satellites to gather data. Perhaps that’s why awareness of climate-induced changes in the mesopelagic environment is only recently gaining ground.
Last week, NPR’s Science Friday hosted Dr. William Gilly of Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Lab. His lab is investigating the recent population increase and geographic spread of the deep-water Humbolt Squid up the California coast. This tropical jumbo-sized squid has even been spotted in Sitka, Alaska!
Why are there more and why are they moving? One theory suggests that their mesopelagic habitat is changing, and the squid are following new temperature and oxygen gradients. New science does conclude that oxygen levels off California are changing at about 1000m depth. But very little is known about how mesopelagic creatures are responding
The full NPR interview is worth a listen for those of you interested in new indicators of mesopelagic environmental change. The deep deserves attention, too.]]>
My first blog feature on Climate Shifts was about marine debris. I wanted to get the word out there after recent Pacific travels. The usual litmus test encouraged me: does my family know about this issue? They didn’t. So, the video I had made for an academic class entered the YouTube world for Mom and blog-followers alike.
My first blog as an official contributor is about public awareness. Both Good Morning America and Stephen Colbert have spotlighted this issue in the past few months. But there really has been no mass response to the overwhelmingly apparent problem. Today, CNN presents a long form video piece on pacific “plastic soup” featuring Capt. Charles Moore whom some accredit with discovering – what the media has dubbed – the “garbage patch.” The man has salt in his hair but not too many citations to his name. And, surprise: he didn’t discover it. Biologists at Midway Atoll have been quantifying the peculiarly abundant presence of plastic in the north Pacific since the late 1960s.
As an aspiring scientist myself, I’m struck by the lack of scientific faces in these media pieces. The anthropogenic blame here is undeniable and disturbing. While many scientists are going on the front lines defending climate change, other phenomena of global environmental change are being left in the periphery.
The task asked of scientists is different than that of defending climate change. Instead of sound science and strong arguments, the issue needs eloquence and persistence in communicating the growing body of science assessing the ecological effects of marine debris. Fortunately, the three letters “PhD” still command a level of respect and recognition from mass audiences. It may be this recognition that can draw the “garbage patch” problem fully out from the periphery of the public consciousness.]]>
Clare Fieseler is a Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Nicholas School of Environment at Duke University. She received a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University with a concentration in Environment. At Georgetown, Clare first began her interest in marine life while working as a research assistant for marine [...]]]>
Clare Fieseler is a Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Nicholas School of Environment at Duke University. She received a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University with a concentration in Environment. At Georgetown, Clare first began her interest in marine life while working as a research assistant for marine mammalogist Dr. Janet Mann. After a short stint in environmental lobbying, Clare worked for two years at the nexus of science and media in the Natural History Unit for the National Geographic Society. She currently resides at the Duke University Marine Lab where she is furiously writing her thesis work on MPA efficacy along the Belizean Barrier Reef, which is co-advised by Dr. Larry Crowder and Dr. John Bruno. Clare is particularly interested in policy and managerial strategies that respond to changing coastal environments.