Scottish universities launch research programme on marine environment and climate change

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 2 November 2018 in News

A group of universities have established the Blue Carbon Forum to measure the ability of Scotland’s marine environment to store carbon dioxide

Image credit: SNH

Scottish universities have launched a new research programme aimed at examining the capacity of Scotland’s marine environment to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Working in partnership with the Scottish Government, a group of universities have established the Blue Carbon Forum to measure the ability of Scotland’s marine environment to store carbon dioxide.

The forum, led by Professor John Baxter, will include a research programme funding six PHDs and one post-doctorate.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “The potential role of our marine environment in tackling the greenhouse gas problem is enormous, with recent research by the University of St Andrews estimating that more carbon is captured and stored in sea lochs alone than in our terrestrial environment, such as forests and peatlands.

“Scottish Natural Heritage has estimated that the amount of carbon stored within Scotland’s Marine Protected Areas is the equivalent of four years of Scotland’s total greenhouse emissions.

“These early indicators are very exciting and the forum will drive forward research and develop our understanding of the processes taking place, as well as the impact of human activity on these habitats. Once we have a better indication of the value of our blue carbon resources, we will be better placed to manage and protect them.

“We’re also going to be the first country in the world to undertake a region-wide blue carbon audit, which will be carried out in the Orkney Islands maritime region.”

The programme is being developed by Marine Scotland in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, St Andrew’s University, Glasgow University, Heriot-Watt University, Napier University, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science.

The forum will aim to begin identifying and mapping blue carbon resource in Scottish waters over 2018-19.

Chair of the Blue Carbon Forum Professor John Baxter said: “Through the establishment of the Scottish Blue Carbon Forum, Scotland is taking a lead in the development of an integrated programme of research into different aspects of blue carbon sequestration and storage.

“This will provide essential information to help inform what is required to be done to enhance and protect these key habitats into the future which is essential for the mitigation of future climate change.”

Holyrood’s Climate Change in Scotland: Meeting Emissions Reduction Targets event will examine priorities for the Climate Change Bill. More information here

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