What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of seaweed? For some people, it may be a form of sushi and for others, it could be an underwater forest.
In either case, you would be correct, but kelp forests go far beyond providing a little food for the plate, they provide for the economy and the environment in great measure.
According to a study published in Nature, the worldwide commercial fishing industry is worth well over $500 billion. The kelp forest supports the industry in multiple ways.
It also goes well beyond supporting industry, as a kelp forest can also absorb 5 million tons of carbon dioxide and sink it harmlessly into the ocean every year.
At the University of New South Wales in Australia, Aaron Eger was doing research for the study on kelp forests along with other researchers. They looked at six different types of kelp that grow in thickets that are referred to as forests.
These forests provide an environment where more than 1,500 species of marine life and fish call home. This was just one of the many benefits that those kelp forests offered.
The carbon dioxide that has been warming the environment in recent years is also sunk into the sea, thanks to the efforts of the kelp forest. The forests take the phosphorus and nitrogen runoff from agriculture and nullify it.
According to New Scientist, to make this determination, researchers tested the plant to see how much it would absorb. Eger compared kelp to a plant on land, saying it takes up nutrients such as carbon dioxide and uses available light to fuel its growth.
Another factor that can be beneficial from kelp forests is the ability to feed the world. The study didn’t focus on kelp in that way, but it has been shown to be a climate-friendly resource that can be used in that way.