News / Asia

    Carbon Storing Qualities of Coastal Wetlands Explored In Australia

    In the Argentina's Patagonia region a massive network of peat bogs quietly stores thousands of gallons of fresh glacial water and helps regulate global climate change by containing more carbon per acre than most wooded forests, (File photo).
    In the Argentina's Patagonia region a massive network of peat bogs quietly stores thousands of gallons of fresh glacial water and helps regulate global climate change by containing more carbon per acre than most wooded forests, (File photo).
    Phil Mercer
    The carbon-soaking qualities of Australia’s coastal and marine wetlands are the focus of a new international research project.  Experts from 20 countries have this week attended a special seminar in Sydney. 
     
    Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney say that seagrass, mangroves and saltmarsh capture carbon up to 40 times faster than forests on land.  
     
    Marine wetlands are able to store the carbon for very long periods, but scientists worry that these “critical ecosystems” are being destroyed around the world at a rapid rate by development and pollution.  It is estimated that this destruction releases as much as 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year into the atmosphere and oceans.  That is almost the equivalent of Japan’s yearly emissions.
     
    Members of the Blue Carbon International Scientific Working Group, which includes representatives from Indonesia, the United States and Kenya, have been meeting in Sydney to discuss the latest research.  
     
    Professor Peter Ralph, the executive director of the Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster at the University of Technology Sydney, says coastal areas can play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change.
     
    “An acre of seagrasses is equivalent to 40 acres of terrestrial forest, so these are very small areas.  Okay, seagrass, saltmarsh and mangrove represent only 2 per cent of the ocean sea floor, but they bind and hold 50 per cent of the marine ocean’s sediment carbon," Ralph explained. "So it is a very, very small habitat but we need to recognize this and protect it so that we do not lose that carbon back into the atmosphere that has been stored for thousands of years.”      
     
    ‘Blue carbon’ is the term used to describe the way coastal vegetation such as seagrass, saltmarsh and mangroves store rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which many scientists blame for warming temperatures.
     
    Professor Ralph says that unlike forests on land, coastal wetlands offer a long-term solution to carbon storage.
     
    “There is no oxygen, so the bacteria break it down really, really slowly, so any carbon we get in the marine environment; in the seagrass, saltmarsh and mangroves is there for thousands and thousands of years.  It is locked up.  It is out of the atmosphere.  It is natural sequestration,” said Ralph.  
     
    The International Blue Carbon Initiative is a global program led by Conservation International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and UNESCO.  It brings together governments, research institutions and non-governmental organizations from around the world.
     
    The research is Australia’s most comprehensive study into ‘blue carbon.’  Australia is one of the world’s worst per capita emitters of greenhouse gases, largely because of its reliance on cheap supplies of coal to generate electricity.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora