Marine Ecology

Seagrass offsets acidification

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Science  28 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6545, pp. 930-931
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6545.930-a

Seagrass beds consume carbon dioxide and thereby reduce local seawater acidification.

PHOTO: NOAA PHOTO LIBRARY/FLICKR/CC BY

Gradual acidification of the world's oceans is driven by the uptake of carbon dioxide. This feature of contemporary climate change has potential consequences for marine life and the functioning of marine ecosystems. Ricart et al. show that acidification can be locally slowed or ameliorated by seagrass meadows, where uptake of carbon dioxide by the plants exceeds that produced by respiration. Along 1000 kilometers of Californian coastal waters and measured over 6 years, pH was elevated in most of the seagrass sites examined compared with adjacent sites. These findings add to the potentially beneficial suite of effects of the presence of seagrasses and macroalgae in coastal waters and indicate possible routes for the management of acidification in these systems.

Glob. Change Biol. 27, 2580 (2021).

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