seagrass loss—the equivalent to the annual CO 2 output of 800,000 homes or 1,600,000 cars driven for 2 months. Co-lead author and ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient, Dr Oscar Serrano, is examining how global issues such as coastal development and climate change are impacting seagrass in Australia. Dr Serrano says the heatwave and subsequent release of carbon dioxide was unprecedented, with more than 20 per cent of meadows lost, equivalent to 1,000km2. Through this research, the researchers are highlighting the need to develop strategies to deal with the impact of climate change and extreme weather events, and helping to highlight the importance of seagrass beyond its importance to the marine ecosystem.
An international research team led by ARC-supported researchers at Edith Cowan University has investigated the huge loss of seagrass that was the result of a marine heatwave in the Shark Bay UNESCO World Heritage site in Western Australia. Halfway up Australia's west coast, the bay is home to the world's largest and most diverse seagrass ecosystem, an important habitat for a wide variety of fish and other marine animals such as dugongs. But since the heatwave during the summer of 2010-11, up to nine million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) have been released into the atmosphere as a result of SCIENTISTS MEASURE THE LOSS OF SHARK BAY SEAGRASS
THE RESEARCH INTO THE HEALTH OF SHARK BAY’S SEAGRASS MEADOWS IS INFORMING POLICY ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE PROTECTION OF COASTAL ECOSYSTEMS.
A researcher holds a lump of dead seagrass. Credit: Paul Lavery.
ADVANCING ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT
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