Golden carbon of Sargassum forests revealed as an opportunity for climate change mitigation

Lidiane P. Gouvêa, Jorge Assis, Carlos F.D. Gurgel, Ester A. Serrão, Thiago C.L. Silveira, Rui Santos, Carlos M. Duarte, Leticia M.C. Peres, Vanessa F. Carvalho, Manuela Batista, Eduardo Bastos, Marina N. Sissini, Paulo A. Horta

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66 Scopus citations


Marine climate change mitigation initiatives have recently attracted a great deal of interest in the role of natural carbon sinks, particularly on coastal systems. Brown seaweeds of the genus Sargassum are the largest canopy-forming algae in tropical and subtropical environments, with a wide global distribution on rocky reefs and as floating stands. Because these algae present high amounts of biomass, we suggest their contribution is relevant for global carbon stocks and consequently for mitigating climate change as CO2 remover. We modelled global distributions and quantified carbon stocks as above-ground biomass (AGB) with machine learning algorithms and climate data. Sargassum AGB totaled 13.1 Pg C at the global scale, which is a significant amount of carbon, comparable to other key marine ecosystems, such as mangrove forests, salt marshes and seagrass meadows. However, specific techniques related to bloom production and management, or the utilization of biomass for biomaterials, should be fostered.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138745
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Apr 17 2020


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