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Kelp carbon sink potential decreases with warming due to accelerating decomposition

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Pip MooreORCiD

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

Cycling of organic carbon in the ocean has the potential to mitigate or exacerbate global climate change, but major questions remain about the environmental controls on organic carbon flux in the coastal zone. Here, we used a field experiment distributed across 28° of latitude, and the entire range of 2 dominant kelp species in the northern hemisphere, to measure decomposition rates of kelp detritus on the seafloor in relation to local environmental factors. Detritus decomposition in both species were strongly related to ocean temperature and initial carbon content, with higher rates of biomass loss at lower latitudes with warmer temperatures. Our experiment showed slow overall decomposition and turnover of kelp detritus and modeling of coastal residence times at our study sites revealed that a significant portion of this production can remain intact long enough to reach deep marine sinks. The results suggest that decomposition of these kelp species could accelerate with ocean warming and that low-latitude kelp forests could experience the greatest increase in remineralization with a 9% to 42% reduced potential for transport to long-term ocean sinks under short-term (RCP4.5) and long-term (RCP8.5) warming scenarios. However, slow decomposition at high latitudes, where kelp abundance is predicted to expand, indicates potential for increasing kelp-carbon sinks in cooler (northern) regions. Our findings reveal an important latitudinal gradient in coastal ecosystem function that provides an improved capacity to predict the implications of ocean warming on carbon cycling. Broad-scale patterns in organic carbon decomposition revealed here can be used to identify hotspots of carbon sequestration potential and resolve relationships between carbon cycling processes and ocean climate at a global scale.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Filbee-Dexter K, Feehan CJ, Smale DA, Krumhansl KA, Augustine S, de Bettignies F, Burrows MT, Byrnes JEK, Campbell J, Davoult D, Dunton KH, Franco JN, Garrido I, Grace SP, Hancke K, Johnson LE, Konar B, Moore PJ, Norderhaug KM, O'Dell A, Pedersen MF, Salomon AK, Sousa-Pinto I, Tiegs S, Yiu D, Wernberg T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS Biology

Year: 2022

Volume: 20

Issue: 8

Online publication date: 04/08/2022

Acceptance date: 08/06/2022

Date deposited: 15/08/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1545-7885

Publisher: Public Library of Science

URL: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001702

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001702

PubMed id: 35925899


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Funding

Funder referenceFunder name
516938-2018
267536
ANR-10-BTBR-04
DE1901006192
DP190100058
DP220100650
MR/S032827/1
M12AS0001
NE/S011692/1
Norwegian Blue Forest Network
RGPIN-2017-05581
UXSO100
Woods Hole Sea Grant

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