Sedimentary Carbon Stocks: A National Assessment of Scotland's Fjords.

Craig Smeaton, William Austin, Althea Davies, John Howe

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Coastal sediments have been shown to be globally significant repositories for carbon (C) with an estimated 126.2 Tg of C being buried annually (Duarte et al. 2005). Though it is clear these areas are important for the long-term storage of C the actual quantity of C held within coastal sediment remains largely unaccounted for. The first step to understanding the role the coastal ocean plays in the global C cycle is to quantify the C held within these coastal sediments. Of the different coastal environment fjords have been shown to be hotspots for C burial with approximately 11 % of the annual global marine carbon sequestration occurring within fjordic environments (Smith et al. 2015). Through the development of a joint geophysical and geochemical methodology we estimated that the sediment in a mid-latitude fjord holds 26.9 ± 0.5 Mt of C (Smeaton et al., 2016), with these results suggesting that Scottish mid-latitude fjords could be a significant unaccounted store of C equivalent to their terrestrial counterparts (i.e. peatlands). Through the application of the joint geophysical and geochemical methodology developed by Smeaton et al (2016) to a number of other mid-latitude fjords, we will create detailed estimations of the sedimentary C stored at these individual sites. Using these detailed C stock estimations in conjunction with upscaling techniques we will establish the first national estimation of fjordic sedimentary C stocks. The data produced will allow for the sedimentary C stocks to be compared to other national C stocks, such as the Scottish peatlands (Chapman et al. 2009) and forestry (Forestry Commission, 2016). Alongside quantifying this large unaccounted for store of C in the coastal ocean this work also lays foundations for future work to understand the role of the coastal ocean in the global C cycle. Duarte, C. M., Middelburg, J. J., and Caraco, N.: Major role of marine vegetation on the oceanic carbon cycle, Biogeosciences, 2, 1-8, doi:10.5194/bg-2-1-2005, 2005. Smeaton, C., Austin, W. E. N., Davies, A. L., Baltzer, A., Abell, R. E., and Howe, J. A.: Substantial stores of sedimentary carbon held in mid-latitude fjords, Biogeosciences, 13, 5771-5787, doi:10.5194/bg-13-5771-2016, 2016. Smith, R. W., Bianchi, T. S., Allison, M., Savage, C., and Galy, V.: High rates of organic carbon burial in fjord sediments globally, Nat. Geosci., 8, 450-453, doi:10.1038/NGEO2421, 2015.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalGeophysical Research Abstracts
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2017


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