Heat Wave Drives Massive Carbon Loss at World Heritage Site - Florida Climate Institute

201803fiu-fourqurean.jpgMarch 27, 2018 (Source: FIU) - Seagrasses in Shark Bay, Australia released massive amounts of carbon dioxide after a devastating heat wave killed them, according to a new study.

More than 22 percent of Shark Bay’s seagrasses died when water temperatures warmed as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for more than two months in 2011. Up to 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were released — the equivalent of what is released annually by 800,000 homes or 1.6 million cars. Healthy seagrass meadows act as giant reservoirs that store carbon in their soils, leaves and other organic matter.

“As the Earth’s climate changes, we expect to see more and more intense heat waves,” said James Fourqurean, director of FIU’s Center for Coastal Oceans Research and co-author of the study. “This release of carbon to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide will only cause further heating of the atmosphere, heating of the oceans and climate change.”

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