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Environment, Energy and Transportation

Seagrasses Can Help Decrease Ocean Acidity: UC Davis Study

UC Davis researchers deploy sensors into seagrass meadows to measure how well they can reverse ocean acidification.
Melissa Ward / UC Davis
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UC Davis researchers deploy sensors into seagrass meadows to measure how well they can reverse ocean acidification.

Oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of climate change. A years-long study out of UC Davis shows that seagrass meadows can help save aquatic ecosystems.

Oceans absorb about a third of the carbon dioxide that we release into the atmosphere.

As a result, they have become too acidic and many species are struggling in the altered ecosystem.

Seagrasses can help as they naturally absorb carbon through photosynthesis.

UC Davis researcher Aurora Ricart helped amass six-years worth of data. It looked at just how well seagrasses can increase pH levels — and therefore, decrease ocean acidification.

“We deployed sensors to measure the pH inside and outside seagrass meadows,” Ricart says. “We did that in seven sites along the california coast from north to south.”

Ricart’s team found that grasses can reduce acidity by up to 30 percent, even at night when there’s no sunshine.

She says this study is another good reason for conserving seagrass meadows to alleviate ocean acidification.