Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Lagoons as carbon reservoirs


Like bogs and peat swamps, lagoons are very efficient carbon sinks. This is demonstrated by scientists from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research and the University of Göttingen in a study recently published in the Journal Global Change Biology.

High concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and the associated global warming are making us more and more aware of how imperative it is to preserve the carbon sinks of our planet. These are ecosystems that store a great deal of carbon.

Boat with a load of mangrove wood in the Segara Anakan Lagoon, Indonesia

Photo: Inga Nordhaus, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research

Removal of a sediment core, here on the shore of the Segara Anakan Lagoon, Indonesia

Photo: Tim Jennerjahn, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research

Natural, highly efficient carbon sinks include the oceans, vegetated coastal habitats such as mangrove forests and seagrass meadows, and moors and peat swamps on land.

Scientists from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) and the University of Göttingen are now focusing on another ecosystem that plays an extremely important role as a carbon reservoir: Lagoons.

With its extensive mangrove and peat forests, Southeast Asia is considered a hotspot of natural carbon sinks. On the Indonesian island of Java, the team studied the Segara Anakan Lagoon in the south of the island, which is surrounded by the largest mangrove forest in Java and supplied by the Citanduy River with inputs from the hinterland.

With the help of a drill core from the sediment of the lagoon and the pollen and spores stored therein as well as the contained carbon and nitrogen and further elements the scientists were able to reconstruct the development of the lagoon over the last 400 years.

Thus it was possible to follow the influence of climate development and land use in the adjacent regions on the lagoon as well as its importance as a carbon reservoir.

Soil erosion plays an important role here. Mangroves are highly effective carbon sinks because the branched roots of the trees retain the sediment with its large amounts of organic material.

However, as the investigation of the drill core showed, especially in rainy climate periods abundant mangrove sediments were washed into the lagoon. The local population uses the mangrove wood for their own needs and cuts large gaps into the forest, which further increases soil erosion.

In addition, the river Citanduy, which discharges into the lagoon, washes sediment masses from the hinterland into it. In the calm water of the lagoon, which has little exchange with the open sea, this load of sediment and organic matter is deposited on the bottom. Unlike in the open ocean, only a small part of the organic material is decomposed and released into the atmosphere as CO2.

In the last century, the deposits of the material that the river carries have increased significantly. This is a consequence of developments in the hinterland, where the original forest vegetation was increasingly displaced by agriculture.

Both farmers and state institutions managed the soil in a less sustainable way and without regard to erosion damage. The practice of terracing slopes also led to extensive sediment inputs into the lagoon.

"For the study we used data from climatic and ecological changes as well as social and political changes in land use around the lagoon", explains Dr. Tim Jennerjahn, biogeochemist at the ZMT and one of the authors of the publication. "Lagoons have become catch basins for man-made environmental damage which would lead to a further increase in the greenhouse gas CO2."

Blessing and disaster are close together here. Lagoons can be found on 13% of the world's coasts. But all over the world they are slowly silting up and at some point will not be able to fulfil their function as carbon sinks any more. This also applies to the Segara Anakan Lagoon, which today has only a quarter of the extent measured in 1860 and has been shrinking rapidly since the 1960s with an annual loss of 70 hectares.

The study was made possible by the bilateral SPICE programme (Science for the Protection of Indonesian Coastal Ecosystems), which has been funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for many years.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Dr. Tim Jennerjahn
Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Bremen
Phone: +49 (0)421 23800-44

Dr. Kartika Anggi Hapsari
University of Göttingen
Phone: +49 (0)551 39 7873


Hapsari, K.A., T.C. Jennerjahn, M.C. Lukas, V. Karius, H. Behling (2019). Intertwined effects of climate and land use change on environmental dynamics and carbon accumulation in a mangrove-fringed coastal lagoon in Java, Indonesia. Global Change Biology. DOI:10.1111/gcb.14926

Dr. Susanne Eickhoff | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA, NOAA analyses reveal 2019 second warmest year on record
16.01.2020 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht New assessment of gas locked in ice in European waters
16.01.2020 | University of Southampton

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Miniature double glazing: Material developed which is heat-insulating and heat-conducting at the same time

Styrofoam or copper - both materials have very different properties with regard to their ability to conduct heat. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz and the University of Bayreuth have now jointly developed and characterized a novel, extremely thin and transparent material that has different thermal conduction properties depending on the direction. While it can conduct heat extremely well in one direction, it shows good thermal insulation in the other direction.

Thermal insulation and thermal conduction play a crucial role in our everyday lives - from computer processors, where it is important to dissipate heat as...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IAF establishes an application laboratory for quantum sensors

In order to advance the transfer of research developments from the field of quantum sensor technology into industrial applications, an application laboratory is being established at Fraunhofer IAF. This will enable interested companies and especially regional SMEs and start-ups to evaluate the innovation potential of quantum sensors for their specific requirements. Both the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are supporting the four-year project with one million euros each.

The application laboratory is being set up as part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project »QMag«, short for quantum magnetometry. In this project, researchers...

Im Focus: How Cells Assemble Their Skeleton

Researchers study the formation of microtubules

Microtubules, filamentous structures within the cell, are required for many important processes, including cell division and intracellular transport. A...

Im Focus: World Premiere in Zurich: Machine keeps human livers alive for one week outside of the body

Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich, ETH Zurich, Wyss Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed a machine that repairs injured human livers and keep them alive outside the body for one week. This breakthrough may increase the number of available organs for transplantation saving many lives of patients with severe liver diseases or cancer.

Until now, livers could be stored safely outside the body for only a few hours. With the novel perfusion technology, livers - and even injured livers - can now...

Im Focus: SuperTIGER on its second prowl -- 130,000 feet above Antarctica

A balloon-borne scientific instrument designed to study the origin of cosmic rays is taking its second turn high above the continent of Antarctica three and a half weeks after its launch.

SuperTIGER (Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder) is designed to measure the rare, heavy elements in cosmic rays that hold clues about their origins...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

„Advanced Battery Power“- Conference, Contributions are welcome!

07.01.2020 | Event News

Latest News

A new 'cool' blue

17.01.2020 | Life Sciences

EU-project SONAR: Better batteries for electricity from renewable energy sources

17.01.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Neuromuscular organoid: It’s contracting!

17.01.2020 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>