Maximizing sea life's ability to reduce atmospheric carbon may help combat climate change

New research on West Antarctic seabed life reveals that the remote region of the South Orkney Islands is a carbon sink hotspot. The findings suggest that this recently designated (and world's first) entirely high seas marine protected area may be a powerful natural ally in combating rising CO2 as sea ice melts.

"There has been a cascade of rising atmospheric CO2 driving warming, reducing sea ice, leading to longer micro-algal blooms—which means longer meal times for animals, which are growing more," said Dr. David Barnes, senior author of the Global Change Biology study. The recently discovered polar seabed gains remove carbon from cycling and represent a key negative feedback working against climate change.

This new science, which was conducted with Darwin Initiative funding, suggests that researchers should investigate whether maximizing natural carbon capture by seabed life could help reduce global CO2.


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As polar ice melts, seabed life is working against climate change

More information: David K. A. Barnes et al. Why is the South Orkney Island shelf (the world's first high seas marine protected area) a carbon immobilization hotspot?, Global Change Biology (2015). DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13157
Journal information: Global Change Biology

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Citation: Maximizing sea life's ability to reduce atmospheric carbon may help combat climate change (2015, December 22) retrieved 4 December 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2015-12-maximizing-sea-life-ability-atmospheric.html
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