How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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The Ecosystem Services of Seagrass Beds in a CO2-Enriched World

Paper Reviewed
Garrard, S.L. and Beaumont, N.J. 2014. The effect of ocean acidification on carbon storage and sequestration in seagrass beds: a global and UK context. Marine Pollution Bulletin 86: 138-146.

Introducing their work, Garrard and Beaumont (2014) state that seagrass beds provide numerous important ecosystem services, such as "protection of the coastline, bioremediation of waste, food provision and maintenance of marine biodiversity," citing the works of Jackson et al. (2012) and Cullen-Unsworth and Unsworth (2013). And in light of these facts, they review how the several mentioned services are likely to be impacted by the ongoing rise in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration.

Based on projections of future anthropogenic CO2 emissions and their impacts on the above- and below-ground growth of seagrass, the two UK researchers estimate that over the remainder of this century, the global standing stock of seagrass "is expected to increase by 94%, whilst the standing stock in the UK is expected to increase by 82%." And they calculate that the associated value of this increase in both above- and below-ground carbon sequestration capacity is - when summed over the entire world - approximately 500 and 600 billion pounds sterling ($765-918 billion USD), respectively, between 2010 and 2100.

And so it is that they conclude that "sustainable management of seagrasses is critical to avoid their continued degradation and loss of carbon sequestration capacity," and, it might be added, to maintain - or even enhance - their many important ecosystem services.

Cullen-Unsworth, L and Unsworth, R. 2013. Seagrass meadows, ecosystem services, and sustainability. Environment 55: 14-27.

Jackson, E.L., Langmead, O., Beaumont, N., Potts, T. and Hattam, C.A. 2012. Seagrass Ecosystem Interactions with Social Economic Systems, UK Defra Funded Study.

Posted 11 February 2015