• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Carbon sequestration by whales has a small effect on climate change

Carbon sequestration by whales has a small effect on climate change

Do whales increase the removal of carbon from the atmosphere?

Despite some hope that this would be the case, a new study by Griffith University and global researchers found that whales are unlikely to capture carbon enough to meaningfully alter the course of climate change.

Marine scientist Dr Olaf Mayneke and a team led by Griffith and the Whales Climate Research Program Professor Brendan Mackie and Dr Jasper de Bee reviewed the primary pathways by which atmospheric carbon is removed at local and global scales. .

The team found that the potential amount of whale extraction is too small to have a significant impact on the trajectory of climate change.

“Whales are important to ocean ecosystems, but their contribution to the global carbon flux is too small to effectively reduce carbon in the atmosphere.Dr Meinke said.

“While our research team would like to highlight the opposite to benefit whale conservation and perhaps one day use carbon credits to support research, the debate is misleading and creates false hope.

“This is different from the media, which keeps whales as climate engineers.

“Creating false hope in the ability of charismatic species to become climate engineers will further delay the urgent behavioral change needed to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts, with indirect consequences for the recovery of whale populations.”

The ocean carbon cycle is an important driver of world climate, and the team emphasized that further investigation of existing gaps in whale ecology could help clarify their contribution to it.

There are other potential pathways by which whales can contribute to carbon sequestration: through their biomass, which stores carbon over decades (depending on their lifespan); When a whale falls to the bottom of the ocean and dies, it may eventually be covered by sediment.

While whales are vital to the healthy functioning of marine ecosystems, overstating their ability to prevent or offset human-induced changes in the global carbon budget could inadvertently divert attention from sustainable methods of reducing greenhouse gases, Dr.

“Previous calculations ignore the rate of carbon sequestration both temporally and spatially. Some of the proposed pathways for carbon sequestration underestimate whale respiration when whales fall (when whales die and sink to the ocean floor and retain carbon for decades). .

“We think it’s important to acknowledge that whales have other values ​​that are more relevant to their conservation than carbon capture.

“Large-scale conservation of marine ecosystems, including whale habitats, can increase resilience and help natural carbon sequestration on a global scale.”

‘Do Whales Increase Ocean Sequestration of Atmospheric Carbon?’ Published in Frontiers in Marine Science, Marine Megafauna.

This research was supported by funding from the Whaling and Climate Research Program.

Source: https://www.griffith.edu.au/

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