Glorious mud’s precious carbon value

Sea Loch oceans

New research highlights need to protect carbon in sea beds that can offset global warming.

Mud, mud, glorious mud, as any hippo knows, is good for cooling the blood. Scottish research has found that it is also significant for its capacity to absorb and store carbon for cooling the planet.

Climate change experts at St Andrews University have concluded that the sediment at the bottom of Scotland’s sea lochs is better at storing carbon long-term than peatland.

Bill Austin, who co-authored the study, said the findings added to a growing body of evidence that highlighted the “absolute” need to safeguard “Scotland’s forgotten mud” if the nation is to meet environmental targets.

Professor Austin, whose ongoing work is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, said:

“The headline figures are very large: about 650 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon stored naturally in sea-loch sediments.   This is not as much as Scotland’s peatlands (estimated at 1620Mt), but sea-loch sediments are significantly more effective at storage over long timescales than the peatlands. These sediments have an important but as yet largely unaccounted role to play in helping Scotland to meet its greenhouse gas and climate targets.”

He added: “Protecting these environments for this unseen service of carbon capture and storage really does make a lot of sense. Bottom trawling of fishing gear is certainly disturbing (them) and almost certainly reducing effective storage potential.”

Read the full article at The Times, or at the author’s website. Read the research paper here.


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