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August 2, 2020

Kelp, the seaweed superhero

How Kelp forests help combat greenhouse gas

  • < 1 minutes
photo: Kurt Arrigo

Coastal ecosystems are great at combatting excess CO2 – the gas at the root of global warming – and absorb about one quarter of all the carbon dioxide we humans produce by burning fossil fuels. This is down to marine plants absorbing CO2 and emitting oxygen through photosynthesis, but kelp has an added super-power that makes it an even greater ally in the fight against climate change.

The secret lies in the gas bladders that buoy up large kelp leaves, bringing them to the surface for the sunlight needed for photosynthesis. This same buoyancy allows pieces of kelp that break off to float far away from where they grew, before eventually sinking to the floor in deep seas. This means that, unlike marine plants close to the shore, this kelp is unlikely to ever be disturbed by storms or the activities of man, thereby sequestering the carbon permanently.

Unfortunately, large swathes of kelp forests are being wiped out all over the world.

Discover more about Kelp forests on:

http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2019/how-kelp-naturally-combats-global-climate-change/

https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-oceans-warm-the-worlds-giant-kelp-forests-begin-to-disappear

 

 

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