The term ’blue carbon‘ refers to the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems – mangroves, tidal and salt marshes, and seagrasses. These highly productive coastal ecosystems are particularly important for their capacity to store carbon within the plants and in the sediments below. 
These natural carbon sinks sequester two to four times more carbon than terrestrial forests and as such are considered a key component of nature-based solutions to climate change. 
Healthy blue carbon ecosystems also provide habitat for marine species, support fish stocks and food security, sustain coastal communities and livelihoods, filter water flowing into our oceans and reef systems, and protect coastlines from erosion and storm surges.  
At Plymouth, we are developing new transdisciplinary perspectives on blue carbon – benefitting restoration of natural habitats as well as social and economic wellbeing of coastal communities. 

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 enable 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 the locations where they can be confident the planting units won’t be damaged and understand how the arrangement of the units can help enhance their survivability, allowing the seagrass plants to become established. 
Seagrass restoration

University scientist joins world experts to ask big questions about blue carbon

Professor Jason Hall-Spencer contributed to a major international study exploring the role of our oceans and coastlines in trapping atmospheric carbon dioxide.
“This is an important study, both globally and more locally. Plymouth has a surrounding network of marine conservation areas designed to protect our kelp forests, seagrass beds and salt marshes, all of which store blue carbon. These marine reservoirs of carbon need protection as if they are damaged they cannot help remove CO2 from the ocean.”
Jason Hall-Spencer

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.