An international team of scientists mapped giant algae. Scientists now understand the volume and habitat of plants that are not yet affected by climate change.
Scientists have mapped kelp thickets – vital marine reserves that are important for the ecology of the Earth, primarily for tropical forests and coral reefs. Before that, scientists did not understand their number and exact location.
Nur Arafeh-Dalmau of the University of Queensland is leading a project to map and identify potential reserves for giant algae increasingly threatened by climate change. He noted that they managed to find sea kelp off 25% of the planet’s coastlines.
“These are some of the most productive and beautiful ecosystems on Earth, but they are disappearing due to the intensification of human activity and sea heat waves,” the researchers noted.
The research team analyzed an archive of satellite data that had been collected over 35 years. So they identified areas where giant kelp can grow – the so-called climatic shelters. The mapped region spans thousands of kilometers along the coast of the United States, Mexico, and the islands of the northeastern Pacific Ocean.
“We found that the level of protection of kelp in marine reserves in the region is alarmingly uneven, with less than one percent protected off the Mexican coast, for example. The region is prone to episodes of rising sea surface temperatures and declining nutrient availability, which limits the biomass and spread of kelp, ”the researchers noted.
Giant kelp is the fastest growing organism on Earth – with its loss, humanity will also lose its carbon store, habitat for marine biodiversity and breeding grounds for fish.