The Importance of Seagrass for Our Ecosystem

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Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:

seagrass, ecosystem, climate change

Photo courtesy of Rita Tan via Flickr

  • The importance of seagrass for our ecosystem: Just like rainforests and other sensitive environments essential for a proper function of our ecosystem, seagrass too deserves a serious attention. According to the 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences: “Losses of seagrass meadows will continue to reduce the energy subsidies they provide to other ecosystems such as adjacent coral reefs or distant areas such as deep-sea bottoms, diminishing the net secondary productivity of these habitats. Seagrass losses also threaten the future of endangered species such as Chinook salmon and the habitat for many other organisms. Seagrass losses decrease primary production, carbon sequestration, and nutrient cycling in the coastal zone.” The rate at which seagrass disappears is equal to tropical rainforests and coral reefs. As Dr. Richard Unsworth, lead researcher on the study explained: “Seagrass is up against a lot. It’s facing the problems of ocean acidification, coastal development and degraded water quality, and the problem is being felt around the globe. Part of a complex ecosystem, the loss of seagrass has many impacts beyond just fish. If we don’t protect those areas of seagrass, those fish in turn will have a harder time surviving.“
  • Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a new record high: According to the World Meteorological Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013, boosted by an increase of carbon dioxide levels. The report indicated that between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34% increase in radiative forcing-the warming effect on our climate, due to a long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. In 2013, concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 142% of the pre-industrial era (1750), and of methane and nitrous oxide 253% and 121% respectively. Based on observations from the Global Atmosphere Watch network, CO2 levels increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other monitored year since 1984. Preliminary data suggest that this fact might be related to decreased absorption of CO2 by Earth’s biosphere combined with constantly rising CO2 emissions.
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