Quality not quantity: prioritizing the management of sedimentary organic matter across continental shelf seas

Craig Smeaton*, William Austin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Disturbance of marine sediments results in the remineralization of sedimentary organic matter (OM) and impacts upon natural burial processes. Management interventions which restrict or remove activities that cause seabed disturbance may offer effective strategies to protect the most vulnerable of these shelf sea OM stores, offering new opportunities to deliver climate mitigation actions. While the largest quantities of OM are often stored in the expansive offshore regions of continental shelves and might therefore suggest appropriate zones for management interventions to protect vulnerable OM stores, our results highlight that these offshore regions generally contain OM of low reactivity. Conversely, inshore and coastal sediments store significant quantities of highly reactive OM that is at greater risk of remineralization when disturbed. The marked spatial disparities between OM reactivity across shelf sea sedimentary environments highlights the need to focus emergent policy and future management interventions towards the protection of inshore and coastal sediments.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GL097481
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume49
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Carbon
  • Sediment
  • Organic matter
  • Bottom trawling
  • Reactivity
  • CRI
  • Index
  • Disturbance
  • Anthropogenic
  • United Kingdom
  • Scotland
  • Climate
  • Organic carbon

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