The term 'blue carbon' refers to the carbon stored in the plants and sediments of marine and coastal ecosystems. These natural carbon sinks sequester two to four times more carbon than terrestrial forests and are considered a key component of nature-based solutions to climate change.
At Plymouth, we are developing new transdisciplinary perspectives on blue carbon – providing robust reporting on carbon stores, restoring natural habitats, and improving the social and economic wellbeing of coastal communities. 
Working with DEFRA and the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere, we have completed the UK’s first marine Natural Capital Asset Register and are highlighting the contributions that blue carbon can make to biodiversity, food security and, through our Centre for Decarbonisation and Offshore Renewable Energy, meeting the goals of the net zero agenda.

Discovering blue carbon potential

South West innovators collaborate to develop enhanced solutions for seagrass monitoring 

The University is collaborating with HydroSurv, Valeport and Natural England to create a new, non-invasive method to measure and monitor seagrass biomass on the seabed around England’s South West coast.   
This project, supported by a grant of more than £266,000 from Innovate UK’s Smart Grant programme, will develop a solution set to change the way seagrass meadows are monitored in the future, complementing traditional diver surveys to cover much larger areas and enabling rapid re-survey work as required.   
Seagrass monitoring

Experiments aid in the restoration of seagrass in Plymouth Sound 

In collaboration with the Ocean Conservation Trust, our researchers have been carrying out experiments in the University’s COAST Lab to look at how seagrass planting units are influenced by hydrodynamic forces. The findings will help the Trust determine locations where they can be confident the planting units won’t be damaged, and to understand how the arrangement of the units can help enhance their survivability, allowing the seagrass plants to become established. 
Seagrass restoration

University research informs legislation to protect 100s of miles of seabed

Under the Nearshore Trawling Byelaw essential habitats, such as kelp forests and seagrass, will be allowed to regenerate to provide fish feeding and nursery grounds, as well as improvements in biodiversity and carbon storage.
It is the first fisheries byelaw to be based on an impact assessment of natural capital and is supported by evidence generated from the University’s ongoing research in the Lyme Bay Marine Protected Area, which highlights the potential for species recovery, as well as social and economic benefits.
Lyme Bay Marine Protected Area. Credit: Dr Luke Holmes

Providing evidence to support policy-making processes

Blue Carbon

Marine ecosystems around the UK can both increase and decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Carbon loss and gain globally by these ecosystems has the potential to influence climate change. Dr Sian Rees and Professor Jason Hall-Spencer are renowned nationally and internationally for their work in the field, and this POSTnote summarises the marine ecosystems in the UK that contribute to these processes, their current and potential future extent, and pressures on them.
Getty bubbles ocean sea underwater


Centre for Decarbonisation and Offshore Renewable Energy

Centre for Decarbonisation and Offshore Renewable Energy 

In response to climate change imperatives, we are bringing together a critical mass of leading research and expertise from across the University of Plymouth. Through co-creation and collaboration with partners from business, government and key communities from across the globe, the Centre aims to be a beacon for the University’s whole-system transdisciplinary approach to solutions-oriented research, accelerating sustainable developments in decarbonisation and renewable energy.