Fjordic environments of Scotland: A national inventory of sedimentary blue carbon.

Craig Smeaton, William Austin, Althea Davies, Agnes Baltzer, John Howe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coastal sediments potentially hold a significant store of carbon; yet there has been no comprehensive attempt to quantitatively determine the quantity of carbon in these stores. Using Scottish sea lochs (fjords) we have established a Holocene record of the quantity and type of carbon held within the sediment store of a typical Scottish sea loch.
Through the use of both seismic geophysics and geochemical measurements we have developed a methodology to make first-order estimations of the carbon held with the sediment of sea lochs. This methodology was applied to four sea lochs with differing geographical locations, catchments, freshwater inputs to produce the first sedimentary Blue Carbon estimates. The resulting carbon inventories show clearly that these sea lochs hold a significant store of sedimentary carbon; for example, Loch Sunart in Argyll stores an estimated 26.88 ± 0.52 Mt C. A direct comparison of the organic carbon content per unit area suggest sea lochs have a greater OC storage potential between than Scottish peatlands on long, Holocene timescales (Loch Sunart = 0.234 Mt OC km-2; Peatland =0.093 Mt OC km-2 (Chapman et al. 2009).
The carbon values calculated for these sea lochs have been used to estimate the total carbon held within Scotland's 110 sea lochs and these up-scaled estimations are for the first time, reviewed in the context of Scotland's known terrestrial stores.
Chapman, S. J., Bell, J., Donnelly, D. and Lilly, A.: Carbonstocks in Scottish peatlands, Soil Use Manag., 25(2), 105-112,doi:10.1111/j.1475-2743.2009.00219.x, 2009.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6074
Number of pages1
JournalEGU General Assembly
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Blue carbon
  • Sea lochs
  • Scotland


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