Estimating CO2 release associated with sediment resuspension – effects of bottom fishing on the seafloor carbon sink

Assessing sediment disturbance impacts on carbon storage.

Human activities such as fossil fuel combustion release tremendous amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. The increase of this greenhouse gas unbalances the global carbon cycle and leads to climate change effects like global warming.

Our planet has natural carbon sinks that capture and store CO2 long-term, which can help us mitigate climate change effects. Forests on the land are a well-known example, but also marine sediments, that cover ~70% of the Earth’s seafloor, store carbon. However, marine sediments suffer from intense disturbance through human activities. Especially, bottom trawling and dredging disturb the seafloor and cause sediment resuspension, which weakens the carbon storage function.

This interdisciplinary project, led by Dr. Ines Bartl, develops a novel, affordable, and adaptable tool – the resuspension assay – to assess sediment disturbance impacts on carbon storage. The resuspension assay will fill a critical knowledge gap for realistically quantifying the carbon footprint of bottom fishing and identifying and conserving valuable seafloor habitats for natural C storage.

About the researcher

Dr Ines Bartl, Faculty of Science