Blue Carbon

In ongoing discussions about reducing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, blue carbon has emerged as a recognized tool to address this challenge in a sustainable and long-term way. Blue carbon describes the ability of aquatic and wetland plants to capture and store carbon from the air. The carbon captured in coastal wetlands presents an opportunity for restoration and infrastructure protection projects to generate greenhouse gas offset credits and incentivize private investment through the revenue that can be generated from carbon credit markets.

The Challenge

A recent report from the National Academies (National Research Council, 2015) recommends “research and development investment to improve methods of carbon dioxide removal and disposal at scales that would have a global impact on reducing greenhouse warming.”

Louisiana’s vast coastal wetlands represent the most important stock of wetland carbon in the United States which offers the potential for impactful research leading to meaningful carbon capture.

The Approach

The interdisciplinary team at the Institute allows experts from many fields to collaborate on identifying and addressing multiple scenarios involved in blue carbon quantification and certification.

• Assess current or proposed coastal restoration projects for potential sediment soil carbon accumulation, storage, and sequestration

• Sampling ecological components of soil carbon accumulation, storage, and sequestration in various habitats (marsh, mangrove, swamp, subtidal)

• Sampling soil to assess land type as well as local and regional vertical accretion rates

• Identify restoration and protection project improvements to maximize blue carbon benefits

• Develop maps of current soil carbon content, accumulation rates, and storage

• Use numerical modeling to determine current and future carbon storage conditions

• Work with partners to identify potential carbon offsets for a planned or current project

• Quantify external sources of carbon that are delivered to a wetland

• Quantify fate of carbon as marshes erode