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Examining Polar Blue Carbon in Ecosystems with SEA-Quester

The goal of SEA-Quester is to study the carbon cycle in new marine polar habitats that are expected to result from climate change. A warmer ocean, shifting currents, and melting sea ice are already altering the distribution, behaviors, and metabolism of several species.

As novel marine ecosystems emerge in high latitude seas, primarily due to reduced sea-ice coverage and changes in species distribution (i.e. as macroalgae like kelp expand poleward), these changes are hypothesized to enhance the natural environments capacity to store carbon. SEA-Quester aims to test this hypothesis by examining carbon cycling processes along coastal margins, within shelf areas, and the pelagic or open ocean, as well as the pathways between them and cross-shelf exchange. Image Credit: SEA-Quester project consortium

It is not yet known how these could impact marine biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as sequestering carbon in the polar seas. It might, however, have a significant impact on achieving biodiversity and climate change mitigation objectives.

SEA-Quester will use a mix of remote sensing, modeling, and field observations to address the unknowns around “polar blue carbon.” The uptake and storage of carbon as it moves from coastal ecosystems (such as kelp forests) to the open ocean will be studied by field cruises to the fjords and shelf seas around Greenland and Svalbard, as well as the Southern Ocean.

Biological processes involving fish, plankton, and bottom-dwelling organisms are important factors in determining the final fate of the carbon the oceans remove from the atmosphere.

These novel discoveries will be reflected in new management tools like biological sequestration amplification factors and maps of blue carbon sequestration amplification factor, in addition to being useful for better modeling of the global ocean and EOV (essential ocean variable) monitoring.

The problems and trade-offs associated with managing and safeguarding Arctic marine areas will be addressed by these new tools, which will also provide insight into the possibility of mitigation of natural carbon sequestration processes.

The following partners are working together on SEA-Quester, which will run from February 1st, 2024 to January 31st, 2028: Technical University of Denmark, DTU-Aqua (Denmark, Lead), University of Bremen (Germany), Greenland Climate Research Centre, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GINR, Greenland), Alfred-Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar & Marine Research (Germany), Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research (IOW, Germany), Åbo Akademi University (Finland), Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAN), GRID-Arendal (Norway), Hereon Helmholtz-Zentrum (Germany), Imperial College London, and Aarhus University (Denmark).

Funding was provided to SEA-Quester under Grant Agreement No. 101136480. Polar Ocean Mitigation Potential (POMP), the sister study, was also financed by HORIZON-CL6-2023-CLIMATE-01-3.


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