A Blue Carbon Primer
The State of Coastal Wetland Carbon Science, Practice and Policy
Blue Carbon has emerged as a term that represents the distinctive carbon stocks and fluxes into or out of coastal wetlands such as marshes, mangroves, and seagrasses. The Blue Carbon concept has rapidly developed in science literature and is highly relevant politically, as nations and markets are developing blue carbon monitoring and management tools and policies. This book is a comprehensive and current compendium of the state of the science, the state of maps and mapping protocols, and the state of policy incentives (including economic valuation of blue carbon), with additional sections on operationalizing blue carbon projects and 7 case studies with global relevance.
Table of Contents
Introduction. Why BC is important for conservation, restoration, mitigation, adaptation, threats. State of Science. Geomorphology/history/setting and overview of human impacts on BC. Fate of coastal C fluxes in open ocean (allochtonous and eroding marshes). C modelling (physical processes and intercomparison). Whole Marsh Budget (NECB). C accretion rates – method and site differences. Revisit of 2003 compilation on carbon burial rates. Global Warming Potential calculations - GHGs (CH4, N2O). DIC dynamics and carbonate precipitation. Sea Level Rise. State of Mapping. Mangrove approaches/Land cover change and restoration potential. Marsh approaches/Land cover change and restoration potential. Seagrass approaches/Land cover change and restoration potential. ESRI global product. State of Policy. International Policy (REDD, IUCN) – Capacity building/technology transfer/finance/safeguards. UNFCCC/National Accounting. National Policies. Economics (Price vs Value/Social Cost of Carbon). New directions for synergies, i.e., fisheries in ecosystem services. Operationalizing. Methodology for BC accounting. Protocol for BC accounting. Proxies for BC accounting. Management linking mitigation and adaptations. Case Studies. Indonesia (REDD). California Delta (mitigation/adaptation). Abu Dhabi (Policy based, STOCKS). Kenya (project). Waquoit Bay, MA (science). Tampa Bay, FL (demonstration project). Mexico – Redd+, mangroves. Future Directions. Integrating Approaches, Impending Threats, Specific Gaps in Knowledge. Links with green infrastructure and ocean acidification.
Dr. Tiffany Troxler is a wetland ecosystem ecologist and Research Associate Professor in the Southeast Environmental Research Center and Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University (FIU). Her work includes collaborative research that examines the effects of saltwater inundation on Everglades coastal wetlands to inform management actions, monitoring adaptive management actions associated with Everglades restoration and advancing interdisciplinary nature-based solutions in urban coastal environments. She served as co-editor and contributing author on two IPCC methodological reports that guide national greenhouse gas policy support on land use and land-use change and wetlands while based in Japan with the IPCC Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Tiffany is also founding Director and Director of Science of the Sea Level Solutions Center at FIU, a state university center that focuses on advancing knowledge, decision making and actions toward mitigating the causes and adapting to the effects of sea-level rise. A near native of Florida, she’s lived in Miami for over 20 years.
Dr Stephen Crooks is the Principal for Wetland Science and Coastal Management at Silvestrum Climate Associates and a wetland restoration practitioner. As a co-founder of the International Blue Carbon Initiative he has worked with many authors of this volume to pioneer this emerging topic. Steve has been a delegate to UN climate change negotiations since 2010, as a representative of the IPCC in 2013 (Warsaw) and of the French Delegation in 2015 (Paris). He was invited to the UN Climate Summit in 2014 by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon. Steve served as a Lead Author of the IPCC 2013 Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands. For the U.S. he is responsible for translating emerging science on management of coastal wetlands for inclusion within the EPA’s National Greenhouse gas Inventory. Steve is Co-Chair of the Carbon Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel advising the GEF Blue Forests Project assisting country partners in Africa, the Americas and Asia enact blue carbon projects.
Dr. Lisamarie Windham-Myershas been a wetland ecologist in the USGS National Research Program for 15 years and is currently a lead scientist for the USGS Hydrological-Ecological Interactions Program, based in Menlo Park, California. Her work focuses broadly on biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology, with approaches that span landscape-to-molecular scales and single-site to synthesis efforts. Across North America, her research has been funded by multiple federal and state agencies, with sites representing a wide range of salinity and management conditions, from rice agriculture to coastal and restored wetlands. Lisa serves in several local, national and international science advisory efforts to evaluate wetland management and modeling approaches to quantify wetland carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas budgets and/or mercury methylation and export. She has been a federal U.S. representative in multiple international policy efforts to quantify carbon fluxes in coastal ecosystems, including the Commission for Environmental Cooperation and the IPCC.
As the impacts of changing climate are becoming increasingly apparent, the ability of coastal wetlands to continue to absorb carbon dioxide has emerged as a topic of intense importance and interest. Scientists will find that this unique resource provides up-to-date information on the carbon cycle in coastal ecosystems, including their capacity for long-term carbon sequestration. Coastal resource managers and policy makers will benefit from the book's discussion on implications of that science for preserving the ecosystem services of coastal wetlands as seas rise and climate changes.
- Marcia K McNutt, President, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, USA
Our planet's highly biodiverse Blue Carbon ecosystems play a key role determining the progression, mitigation and outcomes of global climate change. Alongside their essential role as carbon sinks these ecosystems are fundamental to the livelihoods and food security of tens of millions of coastal people, including some of the planet's most vulnerable populations throughout the tropics. Blue carbon habitats are bunkers of biodiversity, fisheries production, coastal protection and carbon sequestration. Decisive action to protect them is of paramount importance to the fate of both people and nature. Yet for too long we've known too little about the carbon dynamics of these habitats. This landmark publication brings together leading research from the world's pre-eminent coastal wetland scientists, and will help guide evidence-based action at a time of unprecedented threats to these ecosystems.
- Alasdair Harris, Executive Director of Blue Ventures
I was introduced as a plenary speaker at the 2016 Mangrove and Macrobenthos (MM4) meeting in St Augustine by my former student, Dr. Ken Krauss, as saying that ‘Robert Twilley was studying carbon in mangroves before carbon was cool’. In support of that statement, a Web of Science search that includes ‘mangroves and carbon’ returns only 20 publications in the year I published my carbon export study of Rookery Bay mangroves in 1985; compared to over 200 papers published last year. It is great to see this global interest associated with the ‘blue carbon’ focus of wetlands as an ecosystem service. However, with that interest comes the challenge of having shared methods that help shape a community of practice that can generate valid comparative information on blue carbon dynamics. The collection of papers in this edited book ‘A Blue Carbon Primer’ sets the bar to achieve this goal. This series of chapters will certainly guide this community of practice for the next generation of blue carbon analyses of wetland ecosystems.
- Robert R. Twilley, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Past President, Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation
In 2009, after 4 years of work, IUCN published the landmark report on the management of natural coastal carbon sinks. We wrote that report - the first of its kind and which led to the creation of the phrase 'blue carbon' - because of the fundamental need to change the world's views on the importance we should attach to such coastal habitats. The concept of blue carbon captured the attention of policy makers looking to include the biosphere and oceans in climate actions. It is for this reason that I am particularly delighted to see the publication of this book which will help policy makers, decision takers and practitioners on the coast to move forward with renewed determination to safeguard these most critical of Earth's ecosystems.
- Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas
Blue carbon is rapidly becoming a major impetus for conservation of tidal marshes, mangrove swamps and seagrass meadows, ecosystems which are some of the world’s most important sinks for organic carbon. With the recent flood of literature on the topic, A Blue Carbon Primer is a timely contribution. The breadth of topics covered, from drivers of storage to mapping and policy, as well as case studies from five different countries, should make this an important resource for both those new and those experienced in the blue carbon field.
- Gail Chmura, Professor, Department of Geography, McGill University
A Blue Carbon Primer is a comprehensive overview of the nearshore marine ecosystems capable of long-term carbon storage in their sediments – which provide climate mitigation benefits important for the ocean business community to understand and engage in. Managing, protecting and restoring coastal Blue Carbon ecosystems are a significant means for achieving carbon sequestration services, and other benefits to the environment, society, business and the economy. This timely volume creates a framework for Blue Carbon research, policy, and project implementation and sets out common Blue Carbon terminology and concepts for science, policy, and practice necessary for this young field. The book provide examples of Blue Carbon accounting approaches, management, and projects that should be of interest to the global ocean business community.
- Paul Holthus, Founding President and CEO, World Ocean Council
Coastal Blue Carbon Ecosystems, mangroves, tidal salt marshes and seagrasses are found on every continent of the world, besides Antarctica. They are a source for food and help to protect our coasts. However, a function which might be easily overlooked is that they can be a natural based solution for climate change, mitigating CO2 emissions.. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO supports scientists and urges policy makers to recognize that when protected or restored, coastal blue carbon ecosystems sequester and store carbon – acting as carbon sinks. However, when degraded or destroyed, these ecosystems emit the carbon they have stored for centuries into the ocean and atmosphere and become sources of greenhouse gases. This book provides a concrete tool to connect the science with action to foster local, national, regional and finally global activities on coastal blue carbon conservation and restoration.
- Kirsten Isensee, Programme Specialist – Ocean Carbon Sources and Sinks, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO - Ocean Science Section