Carbon Sequestration

Carbon Sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Areas that are able to store large amounts of carbon are known as “carbon sinks” and primarily include oceans and forests. These carbon sinks are crucial in combating both climate change and the current global rise in temperatures. On top of storing carbon, the flora within forests convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through the process of photosynthesis.

Changes in carbon sequestration before and after deforestation.
Changes in carbon sequestration before and after deforestation.

According to a study conducted entitled Carbon Sequestration in Mangrove Forests, by Daniel Alongi from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, mangrove forests have the “highest area rates of carbon sequestration compared with any other ecosystem, terrestrial or marine.” This makes mangroves one of the most carbon rich biomes worldwide. To put this in perspective, mangrove forests only account for 0.5% of the total coastal ocean area, but are responsible for 14% of carbon sequestration by the global ocean. Mangroves are able to store more carbon due to their extensive root system. Most of the carbon stored below ground, either in the roots, as soil carbon, or as peat (organic matter).

As the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans is also the most efficient at carbon sequestration. In 2017, Raghab Ray and Tapan Kumar Jana researched the carbon sequestration potential of the Sundarbans by comparing carbon uptake rates to carbon emission rates from a coal-based power plant in Kolaghat, India. They measured these rates monthly and continuously analyzed them against the amount of carbon pollution found in Kolkata in order to establish a control group. In the end, they concluded that the Sundarbans managed to sequester 98% of the carbon emitted by the power plant in one year. They also stressed the need for mangrove protection globally in order to sustain these sequestration rates. The diagram above visualizes their concerns by showing the effects that deforestation has on carbon sequestration.

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