Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Where's the carbon: exploring the spatial heterogeneity of sedimentary carbon in mid-latitude fjords

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Fjords are recognized as globally significant hotspots for the burial and long-term storage of marine and terrestrially derived organic carbon (OC). By trapping and locking away OC over geological timescales, fjord sediments provide a potentially important yet largely overlooked climate regulation service. Currently, our understanding of the spatial distribution of OC within the surficial sediments of fjords is limited and this potentially implies an overestimation in the global estimates of OC buried in fjords as current calculation methods assume a homogeneous seabed. Using the mid-latitude fjords of Scotland and Ireland as a natural laboratory, we have developed a multi-tiered methodological approach utilizing a spectrum of data ranging from freely available chart data to the latest multibeam geophysics to determine and map the seabed sediment type. Targeted sampling of fjord sediments was undertaken to establish a calibration of sediment type against OC content. The results show that fjord sediments are highly heterogeneous both in sediment type and OC content. Utilizing the tiered mapping outputs, first order estimates of the surficial (top 10 cm) sediment OC stock within Scottish fjords (4.16 ± 0.5 Mt OC) and Irish systems (2.09 ± 0.26 Mt OC), when normalized for area the surficial sediments of Scottish and Irish fjords hold 2027 ± 367 and 1844 ± 94 respectively far exceed estimates for the continental shelf, again highlighting fjord sediments as hotspots for the capture of OC. This tiered approach to mapping sediment type is ideally suited to areas of the marine environment where data availability and quality is a limiting issue. Further understanding of the spatial heterogeneity of these sediments provides a foundation to reevaluate global fjord OC burial rates and to better understand the role of fjord sediments in regulating the global climate.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number00269
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Earth Sciences
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2019

    Research areas

  • Fjord, Carbon, Sediment, Spatial, Scotland, Mid-latitude, Organic carbon, Mapping

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Organic carbon rich sediments: benthic foraminifera as bio-indicators of depositional environments

    Lo Giudice Cappelli, E., Clarke, J., Smeaton, C., Davidson, K. & Austin, W. E. N., 6 Nov 2019, In : Biogeosciences. 16, p. 4183-4199 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Scotland's forgotten carbon: a national assessment of mid-latitude fjord sedimentary carbon stocks

    Smeaton, C., Austin, W. E. N., Davies, A., Baltzer, A., Howe, J. A. & Baxter, J. M., 15 Dec 2017, In : Biogeosciences. 14, 24, p. 5663-5674

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Assessment of blue carbon resources in Scotland’s Inshore Marine Protected Area Network: Commissioned Report No. 957

    Burrows, M., Hughes, D., Austin, W. E. N., Smeaton, C., Hicks, N., Howe, J., Allen, C., Taylor, P. & Vare, L., 2017, Inverness: Scottish Natural Heritage. 283 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Related by journal

  1. The influence of hydrology on the dynamics of land-terminating sectors of the Greenland Ice Sheet

    Davison, B., Sole, A., Livingstone, S., Cowton, T. & Nienow, P., 21 Feb 2019, In : Frontiers in Earth Sciences. 7, 24 p., 10.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. Reading the archive of earth's oxygenation: Volume 1: The Palaeoproterozoic of Fennoscandia as Context for the Fennoscandian Arctic Russia - Drilling Early Earth Project

    Melezhik, V. A., Prave, A. R., Hanski, E. J., Fallick, A. E., Lepland, A., Kump, L. R. & Strauss, H., 2013, In : Frontiers in Earth Sciences. 6

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Reading the archive of earth's oxygenation: Volume 3: Global Events and the Fennoscandian Arctic Russia - Drilling Early Earth Project

    Melezhik, V. A., Prave, A. R., Fallick, A. E., Hanski, E. J., Lepland, A., Kump, L. R. & Strauss, H., 2013, In : Frontiers in Earth Sciences. 8

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Reading the archive of earth's oxygenation: Volume 2: The Core Archive of the Fennoscandian Arctic Russia - Drilling Early Earth Project

    Melezhik, V. A., Prave, A. R., Fallick, A. E., Hanski, E. J., Lepland, A., Kump, L. R. & Strauss, H., 2013, In : Frontiers in Earth Sciences. 7

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 261426102

Top