From tropical seagrass to Arctic coralline algae - how can marine plants mitigate and monitor climate change?
PhD Lina M Rasmusson
Regional Climate Group, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Seagrasses and seaweeds are important coastal inhabitants for many reasons. They build up complex 3D structures offering nursing and feeding grounds for myriads of marine organisms. They protect our coastlines by working as buffering zones between coast and open ocean, where they take up excess nutrients but also work as wave barriers. Moreover, by being very effective primary producers their photosynthesis can trap huge amounts of carbon dioxide, and thus work as effective so called blue carbon sinks mitigating climate change. This is especially true for seagrass meadows as they can also relocate carbon into their underlying sediments and lock carbon away for long periods. Also, by looking at the incorporation of certain trace elements and isotopes in the banding structures of long-lived calcareous red algae, a new possibility to monitor climate change in the marine environment has arisen, improving the status of marine macrophytes as important players in the climate change debate even further.
So, what role does coastal marine macrophytes have in capturing and releasing carbon?
And what might happen if these ecosystems vanish?
And how is it possible to trace environmental changes hundreds of years back in time by looking into the structures of calcareous coralline red algae?
These are some of the questions that will be the foundation of my talk when I will take you from my PhD work in temperate and tropical seagrass meadows up to the cold waters of the Arctic where I now look into the potential of calcareous algae as climate archives.