Assessment of Tropical Blue Carbon Reserves

by Pemika Apichanangkool
April 24, 2013

Natural blue carbon sinks are in decline, and consequently, their capacity to remove global anthropogenic carbon emissions. My research is focusing on Tropical seagrasses, an ecosystem that has been widely studied, however there is little evidence to support how seagrass loss influences their capacity to store carbon in their sediments.

Thalassia hemprichii beds. © Pemika Apichanangkool

Thalassia hemprichii beds. © Pemika Apichanangkool

The major aim of my research project is to examine the influences of seagrass loss, species-specific canopy structure, seagrass cover and biomass on blue carbon sediment reserves. This research examines critical parameters: the capacity of seagrasses to store organic carbon in sediment; the sources of organic carbon coming into the seagrass sediment; and sediment properties. My research also investigates how these parameters influence seagrass density and cover.

Using the coring technique, sediment from tropical seagrass beds and degraded sites are collected. Sediment samples are prepared for analysis of particle size, total organic carbon and nitrogen content, and isotopic composition. Moreover, the benthic net production will be further investigated. Using in situ incubation chamber, the change of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the incubation chamber is also measured.

My project currently consists of laboratory study and data analysis. All the data from my research study will substantiate the important role of seagrasses as a blue carbon reservoir as well as the negative effects of seagrass loss on atmospheric carbon sequestration. Consequently, these outputs will also increase awareness to conserve the seagrass ecosystem not only in tropical areas but also worldwide.

Pemika Apichanangkool is a PhD candidate of the Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster (C3) University of Technology, Sydney at the University. Her work is supported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Total Foundation as part of the Blue Carbon Initiative.

Salinity measurement at study site using Hach conductivity probe. © Pemika Apichanangkool