How do our coastal ecosystems absorb and store carbon?
I am currently a Ph.D. candidate based out of UC Davis' Bodega Marina Lab, working jointly with Dr. Tessa Hill (UC Davis), Dr. Walter Oechel, and Dr. Matthew Edwards (San Diego State University). I broadly study the impacts of climate change on the ocean. As greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, increase in the atmosphere due to human activity, the ocean soaks up about a third of these emissions. The reaction that occurs between the seawater and the carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic, a process called ocean acidification, or ‘OA’. Ocean acidification poses unique challenges: it is derived from a global-scale stressor (emissions worldwide), yet due to its local economic and ecological impacts, we are charged with managing it on a local scale. As such, I am exploring potential local solutions to ameliorate the impacts of ocean acidification. In particular, I am investigating the ability for aquatic vegetative habitats to absorb excess carbon, acting as a buffer against climate change and OA impacts.
Aquatic vegetative habitats, such as seagrass meadows, kelp forests, and salt marshes, all do a particularly good job at absorbing carbon dioxide from the water and atmosphere for use during photosynthesis. As a PhD student at Bodega Marine Lab, I am investigating how these aquatic vegetated habitats remove and store carbon in their tissues and sediments, and if these carbon services can be used as OA and climate change remediation tactics. By researching these questions, I hope to gain a better understanding of how our coastal ecosystems might respond to the environmental changes we expect to see in the future, and how we might tackle these problems on a local scale.