We exist to fill the gaps in science around the various ecosystem services of giant kelp forests, wild and cultivated. We connect and collaborate with the best international universities and research institutions to achieve this.
Our research programme currently focuses on establishing several important ecosystem services of kelp forests: (1) carbon sequestration, (2) biodiversity & marina habitats, (3) avoided emissions of kelp products, and (4) buffering ocean acidification.
How much and at what rate is kelp carbon sequestered in the deep ocean forever?
Giant kelp has the potential to sequester CO2 from surface waters. Current research is indicating that this potential is larger than on land ecosystems.
The kelp carbon sequestration potential is our biggest focus area, as we aim to quantify the carbon sequestration potential by setting up models, confirming these models with biogeochemistry research and field data, and fostering the development of innovative tools and verification techniques. We want to understand how much and at what rate carbon can be sequestered in sediments and the deeper layer of the oceans for long periods of time, which can help us fight climate change.
We will further the understanding of the role of cultivated giant kelp forests in marine environments by performing baseline studies, assessing their impact on existing ecosystems and their role as marine habitats. We study the potential of cultivated kelp forests to create spawning and nursery grounds, the impact on benthic, fauna and algal biodiversity.
Kelp can be processed into products that can have a positive impact in many industries. For example, kelp biostimulant is an extract that can boost the immune system of plants and crops, making them more resilient to stessors such as drought or heat. Kelp can also be processed into bioplastics, nutraceuticals, kelp leather, or textiles. Our research focuses on understanding and quantifying the uses and ecological benefits of kelp products.
The ocean absorbs more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions that are emitted by us humans. This happens through a chemical reaction, turning the CO2 in the atmosphere to carbonic acid. The result is a more acidic ocean waters and thus a lower pH, which has a negative effect on marine life. For example, calcifying organisms such as clams, oysters, lobster and crabs will find difficulties with forming a shell. Science also shows that fish are having difficulties communicating in more acidic waters. Kelp can help with this problem: as kelp grows, it absorbs carbon from the surrounding waters, possibly creating a buffer against ocean acidification. Our research aims to study and establish this benefit for the surrounding ecosystem.