Shrinking Sea Meadows Store More Carbon Than Forests, Scientists Are Racing To Track What’s Left

Shrinking Sea Meadows Store More Carbon Than Forests, Scientists Are Racing To Track What’s Left

The seagrasses curb the acidity of surrounding waters which is an important function as the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and becomes more acidic
Environment, News
- in Environment, News
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Shrinking Sea Meadows Store More Carbon Than Forests. Scientists Are Racing To Track What's LeftSeagrasses help clean polluted water, support fisheries, protect coasts from erosion, and trap micro-plastics, said experts
Highlights
  • Human activity is destroying seagrasses exponentially
  • How much seagrass we have is unknown: Expert
  • Seagrasses play a large role in regulating ocean environments: Experts

Indian Ocean: Hundreds of miles from the nearest shore, ribbon-like fronds flutter in the ocean currents sweeping across an underwater mountain plateau the size of Switzerland. A remote-powered camera glides through the sunlit, turquoise waters of this corner of the western Indian Ocean, capturing rare footage of what scientists believe is the world’s largest seagrass meadow. Human activity is helping destroy the equivalent of a soccer field of these seagrasses every 30 minutes around the world, according to the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).

Also Read: Study Links Disease Outbreaks To Deforestation, Forest Conversion And Commercial Palm Plantations

Scientists are now racing to take stock of what remains. Oxford University earth observation scientist Gwilym Rowlands, who is helping the Seychelles government map the island nation’s seagrass and estimate how much carbon it stores said,

There are a lot of unknowns — even things as simple as how much seagrass we have. If you look at the map data for seagrass, there are huge holes.

Seagrasses play a large role in regulating ocean environments, storing more than twice as much carbon from planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) per square mile as forests do on land, according to a 2012 study in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Countries that hope to earn credit toward bringing down their CO2 emissions could tally their seagrasses and the carbon they store, a first step toward accrediting carbon offsets for eventual trading on an open market.

The grasses also curb the acidity of surrounding waters — an especially important function as the ocean absorbs more CO2 from the atmosphere and becomes more acidic.

But seagrasses provide some buffer from acidification, which can damage animals’ shells and disrupt fish behaviours. In one study published March 31 in the journal Global Change Biology, scientists at the University of California, Davis, found that seagrasses dotted along the California coast could reduce local acidity by up to 30 per cent for extended periods.

The plants also help clean polluted water, support fisheries, protect coasts from erosion, and trap micro-plastics, said the study’s lead author Aurora Ricart.

What is even cooler is that these habitats are present everywhere, she said.

Also Read: Asia-Pacific Region May Meet Only 9 Of The 104 Targets Of Sustainable Development Goals By 2030: UN Report

Seagrass As Climate Ally

While most seagrasses fringe coastlines around the world, the shallowness of Saya de Malha allows sunlight to filter to the seabed, creating an aquatic prairie in the Indian Ocean that provides shelter, nurseries and feeding grounds for thousands of marine species.

The bank’s isolation has helped protect it from coastal threats, including pollution and dredging. But even such remote stretches of international waters face increasing incursions from shipping and industrial fishing.

In March, scientists from institutions including Britain’s Exeter University travelled with Greenpeace on an expedition to collect some of the first field data on the area’s wildlife, including its little-studied beds of seagrass.

With the boat bobbing for days above the plateau, the researchers gathered bits of grass floating in the water, tweezering them into bottles for analysis back on shore.

Data on seagrass meadows are patchy, but research so far estimates the grasses cover over 300,000 square km (115,000 square miles), distributed across all continents apart from Antarctica, according to UNEP. That would be an area the size of Italy.

It is not yet known how much carbon is locked into Saya de Malha, but globally the tangled roots of seagrasses are estimated to trap over 10 per cent of the carbon buried in ocean sediment per year.

“This has massive implications for the (world’s) climate change mitigation efforts,” said Dimos Traganos, lead scientist on a German Aerospace Center project developing software to improve seagrass tracking using satellite imagery and other data. That effort has been helped by recent advances in cloud computing and data storage, he said. “We are in such an exciting period.”

Also Read: State Of India’s Environment: Our Air, Water, Land Have Become More Polluted Between 2009 And 2018, Says Centre For Science And Environment Study

Seagrass meadows are believed to be retreating around 7 per cent per year globally, according to the most recent seagrass census published in a 2009 study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It notes the estimate was based on incomplete data available at the time.

The more closely studied areas illustrate the harm human activity can cause. Pollution from mining and damage by fisheries may have helped to eliminate 92 per cent of mainland Britain’s seagrasses in over a century, according to a March 4 study in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.

If still intact, these could have supported around 400 million fish and stored up to 11.5 million tonnes of carbon — equivalent to 3 per cent of Britain’s CO2 emissions in 2017, the study said.

This year, Seychelles began assessing its coastal seagrass carbon stock for the first time, and at least 10 countries have said seagrasses would play a part in their climate action plans, according to UNEP.

Seychelles and Mauritius, which have joint jurisdiction over the Saya de Malha’s seabed, should count up and care for the wealth of seagrass on their shared doorstep, said James Michel, who served 12 years as president of the Seychelles until 2016.

Then we’ll be in a better position to know how to not only preserve it, but also to manage it to ensure that it is protected for the future.

Also Read: World Carbon Dioxide Emissions Drop 7 Per Cent In Pandemic-Hit 2020

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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World

15,76,70,605Cases
6,06,84,649Active
9,37,03,213Recovered
32,82,743Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 192 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 15,76,70,605 and 32,82,743 have died; 6,06,84,649 are active cases and 9,37,03,213 have recovered as on May 9, 2021 at 3:48 am.

India

2,22,96,414 403738Cases
37,36,648 13202Active
1,83,17,404 386444Recovered
2,42,362 4092Deaths
In India, there are 2,22,96,414 confirmed cases including 2,42,362 deaths. The number of active cases is 37,36,648 and 1,83,17,404 have recovered as on May 9, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State & District Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
DistrictCases
Mumbai45,478
Thane13,660
Pune9,920
Mumbai Suburban5,363
Aurangabad1,974
Nashik1,575
Raigad1,462
Palghar1,421
Solapur1,291
Jalgaon1,039
Akola757
Nagpur692
Kolhapur646
Satara629
Ratnagiri350
Amravati291
Dhule228
Hingoli208
Jalna201
Ahmednagar190
Nanded176
Yavatmal150
Sangli145
Latur139
Osmanabad125
Sindhudurg114
Buldhana88
Parbhani78
gondia69
Beed54
Nandurbar42
Gadchiroli42
Bhandara41
Chandrapur32
Washim13
Wardha11

50,53,336 56,578

6,30,467 26,552

43,47,592 82,266

75,277 864

DistrictCases
Udupi1,176
Kalaburagi669
Yadgir538
Bengaluru Urban529
Raichur369
Mandya346
Belagavi337
Bidar219
Hassan205
Davangere204
Vijayapura201
Dakshina Kannada179
Chikkaballapura149
Mysuru107
Bagalkote103
Uttara Kannada95
Shivamogga67
Dharwad61
Ballari60
Gadag45
Bengaluru Rural40
Tumakuru36
Kolar29
Haveri24
Chikkamagaluru19
Chitradurga14
Koppal5
Kodagu4
Ramanagara3
Chamarajanagara0

18,86,448 47,563

5,48,861 12,200

13,19,301 34,881

18,286 482

DistrictCases
Kannur357
Kasaragod333
Palakkad224
Malappuram119
Kollam118
Thrissur106
Thiruvananthapuram104
Pathanamthitta98
Kozhikode90
Alappuzha76
Kottayam73
Ernakulam60
Idukki40
Wayanad36

18,66,827 41,971

4,17,448 14,451

14,43,633 27,456

5,746 64

DistrictCases
Gautam Buddha Nagar1,119
Agra933
Ghaziabad794
Meerut504
Lucknow386
Saharanpur298
Kanpur Nagar286
Moradabad252
Varanasi243
Hapur225
Aligarh215
Basti214
Amethi206
Rampur203
Jaunpur194
Firozabad190
Barabanki168
Gorakhpur166
Bulandshahr166
Siddharth Nagar159
Ghazipur159
Bijnor157
Deoria143
Azamgarh138
Sant Kabeer Nagar132
Mathura129
Ayodhya120
Muzaffarnagar117
Sambhal116
Sultanpur97
Ambedkar Nagar92
Maharajganj85
Amroha80
Rae Bareli78
Bahraich73
Kheri72
Kannauj69
Baghpat68
Kushi Nagar67
Bhadohi60
Ballia60
Gonda59
Etah52
Hardoi49
Balrampur49
Mau48
Mainpuri46
Etawah46
Hathras43
Unnao42
Jalaun41
Jhansi41
Shamli40
Chandauli38
Auraiya37
Farrukhabad36
Sitapur32
Prayagraj30
Banda27
Shahjahanpur25
Shravasti23
Budaun23
Mirzapur22
Bareilly17
Kasganj16
Pratapgarh15
Pilibhit15
Sonbhadra10
Kaushambi6
Kanpur Dehat4
Chitrakoot4
Lalitpur3
Hamirpur3
Mahoba3
Fatehpur3

14,80,315 26,636

2,45,736 8,382

12,19,409 34,721

15,170 297

DistrictCases
Chennai23,324
Chengalpattu1,314
Thiruvallur774
Villupuram509
Kanchipuram503
Tiruvannamalai496
Cuddalore477
Ariyalur444
Tirunelveli433
Tuticorin333
Kallakurichi324
Madurai322
Salem258
Coimbatore188
Virudhunagar185
Dindigul175
Perambalur133
Ranipet133
Thanjavur130
Theni129
Tiruchirappalli119
Ramanathapuram119
Tiruppur116
Kanniyakumari110
Tenkasi103
Nagapattinam99
Karur88
Namakkal83
Erode75
Vellore71
Thiruvarur67
Pudukkottai53
Sivaganga46
Tirupathur45
Krishnagiri43
The Nilgiris17
Dharmapuri15

13,51,362 27,397

1,39,401 4,046

11,96,549 23,110

15,412 241

DistrictCases
North West5,463
Central4,817
West4,768
New Delhi3,405
North3,059
East2,472
South East2,446
South West2,391
South2,329
North East1,914
Shahdara1,580

13,10,231 17,364

87,907 3,128

12,03,253 20,160

19,071 332

DistrictCases
Kurnool795
Krishna557
Guntur511
Anantapur428
East Godavari356
Chittoor319
Sri Potti Sriramulu Nell*296
Y.S.R.205
West Godavari199
Srikakulam183
Prakasam104
Visakhapatnam103
Vizianagaram23

12,65,439 20,065

1,87,392 697

10,69,432 19,272

8,615 96

DistrictCases
Kolkata2,777
Howrah1,435
24 Paraganas North1,031
Hooghly604
24 Paraganas South281
Maldah235
Dinajpur Uttar216
Coochbehar210
Birbhum206
Medinipur West159
Medinipur East153
Nadia139
Purba Bardhaman130
Murshidabad125
Bankura116
Darjeeling97
Jalpaiguri88
Paschim Bardhaman70
Purulia66
Dinajpur Dakshin50
Alipurduar39
Kalimpong18
Jhargram9

9,73,718 19,436

1,25,164 1,066

8,36,351 18,243

12,203 127

DistrictCases
Bilaspur100
Korba100
Mungeli87
Baloda Bazar85
Jashpur77
Janjgir-Champa56
Mahasamund54
Rajnandgaon52
Kabirdham52
Raigarh47
Raipur46
Balod41
Korea39
Durg31
Bemetara21
Kanker19
Balrampur17
Surguja14
Gariyaband10
Surajpur9
Dhamtari6
Bijapur2
Bastar2
Dantewada0
Kondagaon0
Narayanpur0
Sukma0

8,42,356 12,239

1,30,859 182

7,01,116 12,198

10,381 223

DistrictCases
Jaipur2,177
Jodhpur1,748
Udaipur724
Bharatpur563
Kota503
Nagaur500
Ajmer379
Dungarpur374
Pali352
Jhalawar329
Bhilwara250
Sikar231
Chittorgarh188
Tonk171
Jalore164
Rajsamand140
Sirohi130
Bikaner112
Banswara91
Alwar90
Churu81
Jhunjhunu64
Dausa61
Dholpur60
Baran59
Jaisalmer53
Barmer34
Hanumangarh31
SawaiMadhopur26
Karauli17
Pratapgarh14
Ganganagar8
Bundi5

7,38,786 17,987

1,99,307 160

5,33,973 17,667

5,506 160

DistrictCases
Ahmadabad17,125
Surat2,311
Vadodara1,555
Gandhinagar410
Mahesana159
Banas Kantha147
Bhavnagar146
Rajkot135
Arvalli134
Mahisagar125
Anand107
PanchMahals107
Patan105
SabarKantha101
Kachchh99
Kheda98
Jamnagar63
Bharuch56
Botad55
Surendranagar55
Valsad47
GirSomnath45
Dohad43
Chhotaudepur37
Naysari35
Junagadh31
Narmada25
DevbhumiDwarka22
Amreli16
Porbandar11
Tapi6
Dang5
Morbi4

6,69,928 11,892

1,43,421 2,964

5,18,234 14,737

8,273 119

DistrictCases
Indore3,839
Bhopal1,880
Ujjain799
Burhanpur351
Neemuch319
Jabalpur276
East Nimar266
Sagar228
Gwalior211
Khargone196
Dewas140
Dhar132
Mandsaur112
Morena109
Bhind87
Raisen71
Barwani60
Ratlam51
Rewa39
Shajapur39
Hoshangabad37
Vidisha37
Chhatarpur35
Betul35
Rajgarh31
Dindori29
Sheopur26
Damoh26
Satna24
Anuppur22
Panna20
Tikamgarh18
Sidhi17
Narsinghpur17
Chhindwara16
Agar Malwa15
Mandla15
Shivpuri15
Jhabua14
Shandol14
Singrauli13
Ashoknagar13
Datia12
Sehore12
Umaria10
Balaghat9
Guna8
Harda4
Alirajpur3
Katni3
Seoni2
Niwari0

6,60,712 11,598

1,02,486 7,063

5,51,892 4,445

6,334 90

DistrictCases
Gurugram2,950
Faridabad867
Sonipat404
Rohtak145
Palwal120
Jhajjar114
Karnal104
Hisar98
Ambala93
Panipat78
Nuh68
Bhiwani60
Rewari56
Kurukshetra55
Sirsa50
Kaithal48
Mahendragarh47
CharkiDadri43
Panchkula39
Fatehabad38
Jind38
Yamunanagar19

6,02,349 14,667

1,16,109 146

4,80,786 14,366

5,454 155

DistrictCases
Patna279
Bhagalpur266
Rohtas256
Khagaria253
Begusarai243
Madhubani199
Munger188
Jehanabad178
Katihar175
Darbhanga143
Samastipur139
Siwan139
PurbiChamparan138
Purnia135
Banka134
Buxar134
Nalanda123
Gopalganj123
Nawada122
Sheikhpura118
Gaya115
Kaimur (bhabua)105
Bhojpur103
Saran101
Muzaffarpur96
Saharsa88
Supaul87
Vaishali87
Madhepura82
Kishanganj75
Aurangabad75
Sitamarhi73
Lakhisarai72
Araria68
Pashchim Champaran57
Arwal52
Jamui47
Sheohar20

5,80,217 12,948

1,12,977 2,090

4,64,025 14,962

3,215 76

DistrictCases
Ganjam581
Jajapur322
Khordha238
Baleshwar190
Kendrapara164
Cuttack155
Bhadrak137
Balangir129
Puri103
Sundargarh102
Jagatsinghapur91
Nayagarh86
Mayurbhanj73
Nuapada69
Gajapati61
Dhenkanal36
Boudh34
Kendujhar34
Deogarh33
Kalahandi33
Sonepur29
Kandhamal28
Anugul26
Malkangiri20
Bargarh16
Koraput16
Sambalpur16
Jharsuguda8
Nabarangpur2
Rayagada2

5,24,207 11,807

82,724 4,122

4,39,322 7,664

2,161 21

DistrictCases
Hyderabad2,475
Ranga Reddy183
Suryapet87
Jagitial77
Nizamabad76
MedchalMalkajgiri75
Mancherial43
YadadriBhuvanagiri40
Jogulamba Gadwal40
Vikarabad40
Nalgonda33
Warangal Urban32
Mahabubnagar30
Sangareddy26
Khammam26
Adilabad22
Nirmal21
Karimnagar17
RajannaSircilla16
Medak11
Kamareddy11
Mahabubabad10
Jayashankar Bhupalapally9
Nagarkurnool8
Kumuram Bheem Asifabad8
Jangoan8
Siddipet7
Peddapalli5
Bhadradri Kothagudem5
Warangal Rural4
Mulugu3
Narayanpet3
Wanaparthy1

4,92,385 5,186

68,462 2,846

4,21,219 7,994

2,704 38

DistrictCases
Amritsar485
Jalandhar297
Ludhiana293
Tarn Taran163
Gurdaspur154
Hoshiarpur140
S.A.S Nagar137
Patiala132
Sangrur107
Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr)99
Pathankot86
Rupnagar (Ropar)74
Faridkot74
Sri Muktsar Sahib71
Moga65
Bathinda60
Fatehgarh Sahib57
Fazilka53
Firozepur50
Kapurthala44
Mansa31
Barnala25

4,33,689 9,042

71,948 2,224

3,51,426 6,647

10,315 171

DistrictCases
Kamrup Metro276
Golaghat203
Nagaon143
Hojai89
Dima Hasao86
Karimganj85
Tinsukia84
Cachar80
Dibrugarh61
Hailakandi57
Lakhimpur57
Marigaon50
Dhemaji47
Kamrup42
Kokrajhar37
Dhubri30
Charaideo29
Barpeta28
Udalguri28
Sonitpur27
Jorhat24
Nalbari23
Darrang20
Sivasagar20
Goalpara19
Biswanath16
Baksa14
KarbiAnglong13
Bongaigaon12
Chirang6
West KarbiAnglong5
South SalmaraMancachar4
Majuli2

2,89,069 5,756

38,146 2,653

2,49,295 3,053

1,628 50

DistrictCases
East Singhbum170
Ranchi148
Hazaribagh110
Garhwa80
Ramgarh75
Koderma58
Simdega48
Dhanbad32
Gumla28
Palamu27
West Singhbhum21
SaraikelaKharsawan20
Giridih19
Bokaro16
Latehar14
Khunti10
Lohardaga8
Deoghar5
Dumka5
Pakur4
Jamtara2
Godda2
Chatra1
Sahebganj0

2,82,174 6,112

61,195 18

2,17,223 5,953

3,756 141

DistrictCases
Dehradun370
Nainital323
Tehri Garhwal110
Haridwar94
Udam Singh Nagar83
Almora71
Champawat45
Pithoragarh43
Chamoli36
PauriGarhwal36
Bageshwar31
Rudraprayag30
Uttar Kashi24

2,38,383 8,390

71,174 3,483

1,63,661 4,789

3,548 118

DistrictCases
Anantnag395
Srinagar300
Kulgam295
Baramulla271
Shopian255
Kupwara231
Bandipora175
Udhampur155
Ramban151
Jammu138
Budgam110
Pulwama108
Kathua53
Rajouri39
Ganderbal37
Poonch35
Doda27
Reasi26
Samba25
Kishtwar10
Mirpur0
Muzaffarabad0

2,11,742 4,788

46,535 2,228

1,62,535 2,500

2,672 60

DistrictCases
Hamirpur117
Kangra105
Una41
Solan32
Chamba29
Bilaspur21
Mandi21
Sirmaur11
Shimla10
Kullu4
Kinnaur2
Lahaul And Spiti0

1,28,330 5,424

31,893 2,380

94,607 3,007

1,830 37

DistrictCases
South Goa69
North Goa57

1,16,213 3,751

32,387 671

82,214 3,025

1,612 55

DistrictCases
Pondicherry111
Mahe4
Karaikal2
Yanam0

70,076 1,703

13,585 507

55,552 1,177

939 19

DistrictCases
Chandigarh313

49,312 870

8,505 0

40,249 861

558 9

DistrictCases
Dhalai196
Sepahijala174
Gomati74
South Tripura53
Unakoti49
West Tripura45
Khowai24
North Tripura14

37,559 351

2,751 218

34,402 132

406 1

DistrictCases
Churachandpur32
Kangpokpi26
Imphal West21
Thoubal18
Imphal East10
Tengnoupal9
Bishnupur7
Senapati6
Chandel5
Kamjong5
Ukhrul4
Jiribam3
Pherzawl3
Kakching2
Tamenglong2
Noney1

34,775 442

3,851 345

30,463 85

461 12

DistrictCases
Changlang31
Papum Pare8
Lohit3
Namsai2
West Siang1
East Siang1
Upper Siang1
Tawang1
PakkeKessang1
West Kameng0
Upper Subansiri0
Tirap0
Siang0
Shi Yomi0
Anjaw0
Lower Subansiri0
Lower Dibang Valley0
Longding0
Leparada0
KurungKumey0
KraDaadi0
Kamle0
East Kameng0
Dibang Valley0
Lower Siang0

20,046 244

2,002 109

17,984 135

60

DistrictCases
East Khasi Hills22
West Garo Hills5
South West Garo Hills4
North Garo Hills1
West Jaintia Hills1
West Khasi Hills1
East Garo Hills0
East Jaintia Hills0
Ribhoi0
South Garo Hills0
South West Khasi Hills0

19,302 375

2,678 212

16,414 152

210 11

DistrictCases
Dimapur20
Mon8
Kohima7
Kiphire3
Tuensang3
Peren2
Phek1
Longleng0
Mokokchung0
Wokha0
Zunheboto0

15,913 333

2,711 278

13,065 40

137 15

DistrictCases
Kargil77
LehLadakh43

15,179 156

1,412 12

13,614 143

153 1

DistrictCases
East District3
South District3
North District0
West District0

9,651 200

2,528 130

6,958 65

165 5

DistrictCases
Dadra And Nagar Haveli20

8,737 141

1,425 32

7,308 173

4

DistrictCases
Kolasib11
Aizawl10
Mamit8
Lawngtlai2
Lunglei2
Saitual1
Champhai0
Hnahthial0
Khawzawl0
Saiha0
Serchhip0

7,551 169

1,951 45

5,583 124

17

DistrictCases
South Andamans33
Nicobars1
North And Middle Andaman1

6,341 30

211 2

6,056 26

74 2

DistrictCases
Lakshadweep District0

3,756 127

1,039 88

2,708 215

9

Coronavirus Outbreak: Full CoverageTesting CentresFAQs

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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