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A blueprint for the estimation of seagrass carbon stock using remote sensing-enabled proxies

Simpson, J., Bruce, E., Davies, K.P. and Barber, P. (2022) A blueprint for the estimation of seagrass carbon stock using remote sensing-enabled proxies. Remote Sensing, 14 (15). Art. 3572.

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Seagrass ecosystems sequester carbon at disproportionately high rates compared to terrestrial ecosystems and represent a powerful potential contributor to climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. However, at a local scale, rich heterogeneity in seagrass ecosystems may lead to variability in carbon sequestration. Differences in carbon sequestration rates, both within and between seagrass meadows, are related to a wide range of interrelated biophysical and environmental variables that are difficult to measure holistically using traditional field surveys. Improved methods for producing robust, spatially explicit estimates of seagrass carbon storage across large areas would be highly valuable, but must capture complex biophysical heterogeneity and variability to be accurate and useful. Here, we review the current and emerging literature on biophysical processes which shape carbon storage in seagrass beds, alongside studies that map seagrass characteristics using satellite remote sensing data, to create a blueprint for the development of remote sensing-enabled proxies for seagrass carbon stock and sequestration. Applications of satellite remote sensing included measuring seagrass meadow extent, estimating above-ground biomass, mapping species composition, quantifying patchiness and patch connectivity, determining broader landscape environmental contexts, and characterising seagrass life cycles. All of these characteristics may contribute to variability in seagrass carbon storage. As such, remote sensing methods are uniquely placed to enable proxy-based estimates of seagrass carbon stock by capturing their biophysical characteristics, in addition to the spatiotemporal heterogeneity and variability of these characteristics. Though the outlined approach is complex, it is suitable for accurately and efficiently producing a full picture of seagrass carbon stock. This review has drawn links between the processes of seagrass carbon sequestration and the capabilities of remote sensing to detect and characterise these processes. These links will facilitate the development of remote sensing-enabled proxies and support spatially explicit estimates of carbon stock, ensuring climate change mitigation and adaptation projects involving seagrass are accounted for with increased accuracy and reliability.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Terrestrial Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.
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