20.4 C
Byron Shire
December 9, 2022

Mangroves keep carbon in the soil for 5,000 years

Latest News

Calls to reverse NSW anti-protest laws

The harsh sentencing of Deanna ‘Violet’ Coco for stopping a lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April this year has led to a range of protests and the call to reverse NSW anti-protest laws by lawyer and Greens NSW Legislative Council Member Sue Higginson.

Other News

Byron Council’s renewable energy projects uncertain

Two major renewable energy projects promised by Byron Council are now facing an uncertain future, after an unsuccessful bid for federal funding left the Council struggling to pay for both of them.

Pianos delivered, for the people!

Following the devastating 2022 floods, Pianos for the People answered the call to bring music to the people of the Northern Rivers. 

Fingal Foreshore Park ready for holiday fun

The Tweed Shire Council is very happy to unveil a new playground at Fingal Foreshore Park that celebrates the rich cultural history of the Tweed coastal village.

Cartoon of the week – 7 December 2022

Letters to the editor The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that...

So you think someone needs a puppy for Christmas?

If you’re thinking about giving your loved one a puppy as a gift this Christmas, Dogs Australia urges you to think twice.

Mullum’s Federation Bridge closed again tonight

Mullum and hinterland residents and visitors are reminded that Federation Bridge will be closed again tonight from 6pm to 4am for repairs. 

Matthew Costa exploring a mangrove forest in Mexico. Photo Ramiro Arcos Aguilar/UCSD

Brought to you by Cosmos Magazine and The Echo

Marine forests are great long-term carbon sinks.

On top of all the other dazzling biology, mangrove forests are massive carbon sinks.

In fact, according to new research on a Mexican mangrove forest, they can keep carbon out of the atmosphere for millennia.

A study published in Marine Ecology Progress Series has found that the carbon stored in peat under the mangrove forest is over 5,000 years old.

“What’s special about these mangrove sites isn’t that they’re the fastest at carbon storage, but that they have kept the carbon for so long,” says co-author Emma Aronson, an associate professor in microbiology and plant pathology at the University of California, Riverside, US.

“It is orders of magnitude more carbon storage than most other ecosystems in the region.”

It’s well-known that mangroves, like other plant ecosystems, are good at absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in soil, with the help of a range of different microbes.

In a wet, oxygen-low environment – like under mangrove forests – the organic matter can form carbon-rich peat.

But soil carbon storage is rarely permanent: over decades or centuries, the carbon is cycled back into the atmosphere. (To learn more, read our explainer on soil carbon storage.)

The researchers set out to examine the microbial life, as well as the carbon and nitrogen storage, of marine mangrove forests near La Paz in Mexico.

They used radiometric dating to figure out the age of the peat, placing the oldest at 5,000 years, give or take about a century.

This extreme age surprised the researchers – while it’s not as old as the peat under Artic or Antarctic permafrost, it’s much older than surrounding ecosystems.

They’re now hoping to examine other mangrove sites in North and Central America to see whether they have similarly ancient carbon.

More on mangrove forests: Largest mangrove die-off affected by wobble in Moon’s orbit

“These sites are protecting carbon that has been there for millennia. Disturbing them would cause a carbon emission that we wouldn’t be able to repair any time soon,” says first author Dr Matthew Costa, a coastal ecologist at University of California, San Diego, US.

Costa says that protecting mangroves from disruption would have a significant effect on the climate.

“If we let these forests keep functioning, they can retain the carbon they’ve sequestered out of our atmosphere, essentially permanently.

“These mangroves have an important role in mitigating climate change.”


This article was originally published on Cosmos Magazine and was written by Ellen Phiddian. Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Well !
    Nothing new there, this has all been documented for decades, as has the role of ‘sea grass ‘ meadows , both of which are just as vandalised as what was left of our land-based forests.
    But , nobody cares . Cheers, G”)

  2. It’s the Plankton that keeps sucking all the CO2 out of the atmosphere to make their shells, then sinking to the ocean depths, eventually forming limestone under all that pressure. Plankton caused the ‘Great Oxygenation Event’ that wiped out most life on Earth with complete marine eco-system collapse across the entire planet. Your mosquito factories do bugger all.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Tweed Council secures environmental water sharing during drought

Two items at last week's Tweed Shire Council meeting highlighted the commitment of the council to sharing water with the environment even during low-flow and drought periods. 

Celebrating the life of Jack Paris Crittle

Young DJ and keen surfer, Jack Crittle, was tragically killed in a car accident last week. A celebration of his life will be held this Monday, 12 December at 10am.

Mullum’s Federation Bridge closed again tonight

Mullum and hinterland residents and visitors are reminded that Federation Bridge will be closed again tonight from 6pm to 4am for repairs. 

Changing the world with non-violent action

‘Nonviolence  is an intensely active force when properly understood and used.’ These are the words of Gandhi, the man who led nationwide campaigns in his country to ease poverty by creating a movement of resistance that contributed to ending British Rule in India.