Library Dissertation Showcase

An investigation into the effectiveness of coastal managed realignment sites for carbon sequestration and storage in the face of anthropogenic climate change

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

Blue carbon ecosystems are vital in helping to mitigate climate change. Arguably their unique environments make them even more efficient than terrestrial ecosystems. Despite this, they are at risk from global degradation due to increasing rates of sea-level rise and land reclamation. Managed realignment has become an effective method to restore these ecosystems, however, there is limited knowledge on their value for blue carbon sequestration. This study, therefore, evaluates the ability of managed realignment sites to sequester and store carbon by collecting soil cores from a restored marsh at Freiston Shore, Lincolnshire. The carbon content is then compared with adjacent agricultural land to evaluate the differing carbon sequestration ability between the two ecosystems. This managed realignment site proved successful in carbon sequestration as loss on ignition analysis shows the average organic matter was significantly (þ = 0.007) higher in the saltmarsh (9.29% ± 4.28%) compared to the agricultural land (4.96% ± 1.65%). Regression analysis proved that inundation is a key factor controlling this carbon content as there was a positive correlation between the loss on ignition and moisture content. When comparing the total carbon of a 66ha area, the saltmarsh contained 11742 t C ± 1144 t C whilst the agricultural land only contained 4521 t C ± 322 t C, meaning it has accumulated 2.6 times the amount of carbon than if it remained agricultural land. This managed realignment site has stored 5 times the amount of carbon per hectare as the saltmarsh contained 6560 t C ha-1 ± 390 t C ha-1 compared to 1370 t C ha-1 ± 56 t C ha-1 as agricultural land. Overall, this study shows Freiston Shore is an effective carbon sink in relation to agricultural land, therefore restored saltmarshes created through managed realignment should be considered as important blue carbon ecosystems in order to mitigate climate change.

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