A marine heatwave drives massive losses from the world’s largest seagrass carbon stocks

Ariane Arias-Ortiz, Oscar Serrano, Pere Masqué, P. S. Lavery, U. Mueller, G. A. Kendrick, M. Rozaimi, A. Esteban, J. W. Fourqurean, N. Marbà, M. A. Mateo, K. Murray, M. J. Rule, Carlos M. Duarte

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144 Scopus citations

Abstract

Seagrass ecosystems contain globally significant organic carbon (C) stocks. However, climate change and increasing frequency of extreme events threaten their preservation. Shark Bay, Western Australia, has the largest C stock reported for a seagrass ecosystem, containing up to 1.3% of the total C stored within the top metre of seagrass sediments worldwide. On the basis of field studies and satellite imagery, we estimate that 36% of Shark Bay’s seagrass meadows were damaged following a marine heatwave in 2010/2011. Assuming that 10 to 50% of the seagrass sediment C stock was exposed to oxic conditions after disturbance, between 2 and 9 Tg CO could have been released to the atmosphere during the following three years, increasing emissions from land-use change in Australia by 4–21% per annum. With heatwaves predicted to increase with further climate warming, conservation of seagrass ecosystems is essential to avoid adverse feedbacks on the climate system.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-344
Number of pages7
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 19 2018

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  • A marine heat wave drives massive losses from the world’s largest seagrass carbon stocks

    Arias-Ortiz, A. (Creator), Serrano, O. (Creator), Masqué, P. (Creator), Lavery, P. S. (Creator), Mueller, U. (Creator), Kendrick, G. A. (Creator), Rozaimi, M. (Creator), Esteban, A. (Creator), Fourqurean, J. W. (Creator), Marbà, N. (Creator), Mateo, M. A. (Creator), Murray, K. (Creator), Rule, M. J. (Creator), Duarte, C. (Creator), Arias-Ortiz, A. (Creator), Serrano, O. (Creator), Masqué, P. (Creator), Lavery, P. S. (Creator), Mueller, U. (Creator), Kendrick, G. A. (Creator), Rozaimi, M. (Creator), Esteban, A. (Creator), Fourqurean, J. W. (Creator), Marbà, N. (Creator), Mateo, M. A. (Creator), Murray, K. (Creator) & Rule, M. J. (Creator), Edith Cowan University, 2016

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