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Scottish Blue Carbon Forum
Ongoing Projects 

NKamenos_Lithothamnion glaciale.jpg

Photo: Nick Kamenos

Scottish coralline algal (maerl) bed blue carbon in a changing world

Coralline algal beds (maerl beds) store significant carbon derived both locally and from other organic carbon donors (e.g. kelp and seagrass). While we have an improving understanding of their function in carbon sequestration and storage at the individual bed level, there is a paucity of information on storage across Scottish beds in both space and time. Our research uses a variety of geochemical techniques to investigate how the ability of coralline algae to sequester carbon varies across Scotland but also in the future under a range of climate scenarios. This will enable us to understand carbon sequestration and storage processes across Scotland both now and in the future.

Scotland’s Pockmarks: understanding the link between gas-escape features and buried carbon in fjordic systems.

This projects aims to map the distribution of seabed pockmarks from MBES data in a range of offshore settings around Western Scotland. This work forms part of a wider study to investigate whether high-resolution hydro-acoustic bathymetry data can be used to reveal the location, extent and fate of carbon stored in seabed sediments around western Scotland.

Assessing the resilience of Scotland’s Blue Carbon Sediment Stores

Scotland's shelf and coastal seas hold vast quantities of sedimentary carbon. Yet the stability of these sedimentary C stores under increasing anthropogenic pressure is poorly understood. This project seeks to examine and quantify the potential impacts of management practices, particularly the impacts of mobile benthic fishing gear, on the long-term stability of Scotland’s marine sedimentary C stores.

Unlocking the vaults: Blue carbon and bivalve shellfish beds.

Bivalve molluscs provide a wealth of ecosystem goods and services, from water quality management to being commercially valuable. Historically, overfishing and disease has led to the depletion of bivalve stocks globally. This project aims to quantify the potential of shellfish beds to be more widely considered as blue carbon stores.

Towards A National Inventory for Sedimentary Carbon on the Scottish Continental Shelf

It is understood that the seabed is a long-term store of OC, however there are gaps in our knowledge of more specifically where this C is found. Spatial mapping will play an integral component to understanding where OC is likely to be and to create a first-order estimation of the surface OC stock. This project is focused on understanding the spatial distribution of OC within the diverse seabed sediments on the Scottish Continental Shelf (SCS). The project will also combine archived and contemporary seabed samples for C analysis to characterize spatial hotspots of sedimentary C on the SCS.

Using genetics, physiology and modelling to improve marine ecosystem conservation

Maerl beds are important contributors to the standing stock of carbon.  The aims of this project has been to construct the first species distribution models of Scottish maerl beds, using known occurrences and environmental data. This will give a more comprehensive view of Scottish maerl bed distribution with the aim of informing targeted conservation management and generation of accurate assessments of maerl’s contribution to Scotland’s blue carbon.

Sources, Sinks and Subsidies: Understanding Sedimentary Carbon Across Scotland  Coastal Seas

This project seeks to investigate the role coastal sediments play in the long-term storage of carbon. The aims of the project is to refine current sedimentary carbon stock estimates, understand the spatial distribution of carbon on the seafloor, determine the source of the carbon and quantify the rate at which carbon is locked away in these systems. Through an improved understanding of these factors we will be able to provide scientifically robust policy advice on managing and protecting these nationally important carbon stores.

Source to Sea: Soil carbon transport from forested environments to coastal waters

In this project we will investigate the effect of afforestation on carbon transport to, and accumulation in, the coastal ocean. We will also aim to gain a better understanding of the role of iron-carbon interactions in the preservation and sequestration of carbon in coastal environments. This research should allow us to contribute towards more robust carbon budgets and provide valuable information to guide both land and coastal management.

Carbon Storage in Intertidal Environments (C-SIDE)

The NERC funded C-SIDE project is striving to produce the first large-scale empirical study of saltmarsh carbon storage, accretion rates, its drivers and the long-term stability/resilience of these stores.  The outcomes of the work will provide practical guidance for coastal managers and inform shoreline policy to safeguard carbon storage in the intertidal zone.

The Potential of Scottish Saltmarshes for Climate Change Mitigation

This interdisciplinary project aims to address an opportunity to include Blue Carbon in climate change policy. It investigates the amount and potential for carbon storage in Scottish saltmarshes and determines the Scottish population’s valuation of these habitats and future management preferences. The results from this research will inform policy recommendations for future saltmarsh management.

Scotland’s blue carbon: the contribution from seaweed detritus

Seaweed beds in Scotland are areas of high productivity and provide a large number of ecosystem services. While carbon storage within seaweed beds is minimal, the potential for long-term carbon storage comes from the production of seaweed detritus. This project aims to monitor and estimate detrital production in Scotland, produce decomposition rates for important species in Scotland and use biomarkers to estimate sediment contribution from seaweed. Overall, the project seeks to better understand the role that seaweed plays in long term carbon storage.   

Understanding the drivers of, and threats to, carbon sequestration in Scottish seagrass.

The project seeks to understand the drivers of, and threats to, carbon sequestration in Scottish seagrass. The project uses a multidisciplinary approach to address physical, chemical and biological differences in carbon accumulation in Scottish seagrass meadows.

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