Decision-makers and researchers explore blue carbon solutions in California

By Priya.Shukla

In the search for climate solutions, there is one that already exists in California’s backyard: blue carbon habitats. These coastal ecosystems – which include seagrass beds, tidal marshes, and wetlands – naturally uptake and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water. As a result, they have enormous potential to help ameliorate the effects of climate change.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and an expert advisory committee legislated by AB 1757 have both been tasked with determining targets for conserving and restoring blue carbon systems to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To support this effort, OST partnered with the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) to host a virtual workshop in early May entitled, “Activating science and management communities for blue carbon solutions” which brought together over 50 scientists, managers, and engaged community members to discuss

  1. cutting edge blue carbon science
  2. models used to set blue carbon targets, and
  3. address gaps and questions concerning blue carbon science and agency needs.

A motif across the presentations and subsequent discussions was gaps in knowledge that are preventing scientists and managers from accurately assessing the impact of blue carbon systems. This included:

  • Modeling approaches that adequately addresses how varying environmental, climate, and management shifts affect the drawdown of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Continuous monitoring of blue carbon stocks to help validate and/or update those models
  • Exploring how predicted sea level rise will influence blue carbon habitats’ capacity for removing and storing carbon
  • Understanding how the protection of blue carbon habitats benefit or infringe upon the needs of communities impacted first/the most by climate change

Towards the end of the workshop, there was momentum to maintain interdisciplinary collaborations that support the preservation and restoration of blue carbon systems in California. OST strives to continue being a part of this work by helping ground ongoing and future policy endeavors in the best available blue carbon science.

For more information, an in-depth summary of the workshop is available here.

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