Blue Carbon

Updating and Enhancing Coastal Vegetation and Blue Carbon Datasets on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal

The Northeast Ocean Data Portal is working with US EPA Region 1 and experts in the region to update the existing data layers depicting current and historical extents of eelgrass (Zostera marina) and the current extent of tidal wetlands as well as the development of new data products that represent stocks of blue carbon in the Northeast US associated with eelgrass and salt marsh habitats. Existing research by EPA Region 1 scientists and collaborators (and/or other similar research published in agency reports or peer-reviewed journals) is being used to apply generalized carbon stock values or multipliers for eelgrass and salt marsh habitats in various environmental settings with the goal of developing a blue carbon “heat map”. Funding for this project is from US EPA Region 1.

Blue carbon is the term used to define carbon sequestered in marine habitats, i.e., seagrasses, marshes, and mangroves. Research has shown the carbon storage potential of these habitats are much greater than those of other global carbon sinks. Therefore, it is critical that these habitats are conserved to allow for continued carbon storage and sequestration into the future. A broad cross section of coastal and marine stakeholders will gain access to updated and enhanced coastal habitat data; this effort will help to support ocean planning, management, and blue carbon assessment in the Northeast US.

Project outputs for the Northeast Ocean Data Portal in 2021

  • Updated regional composite seagrass layer and historical seagrass layer
  • Updated regional composite coastal wetlands / tidal marsh vegetation layer
  • Generalized blue carbon “heat map” for eelgrass and salt marsh habitats

Potential future work

  • Expanding the collection of coastal vegetation into additional habitats such as kelp and other attached macroalgae
  • Characterizing biodiversity value of coastal vegetation blue carbon hotspots


photo credit: Phil Colarusso

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