Vegetated coastal ecosystems of tropical and temperate latitudes, such as mangrove forests, seagrass beds, salt marshes or kelp forests, absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. However, over the last decades their integrity and extent have been compromised and reduced by numerous human activities. Consequently, the global capacity of climate change mitigation through "blue carbon" fixed in coastal ecosystems decreased drastically. Concrete action is needed to reverse this trend.
sea4soCiety aims at developing innovative and societally accepted approaches to improve the natural potential for carbon storage in vegetation-rich coastal ecosystems. As one of a total of six research consortia in the research mission “Marine carbon sinks in decarbonization pathways” of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM), sea4society will determine the quantity and quality of the "blue carbon" stores in four different types of coastal ecosystems on the German North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts, in the Caribbean and the Indonesian Sea.
The origin, stability and dynamics of organic matter are analysed in the field and in the laboratories of the collaborative partners. Satellite data and ship-based measurements are used to determine the biomass on land and underwater in coastal ecosystems.
Communication with local societies, modelling and scenarios will make an evaluation of the potential benefits and risks of increasing the area of coastal ecosystems beyond their current stocks, following the concept of Ecosystem Design, possible.