Perspective: Increasing Blue Carbon around Antarctica is an ecosystem service of considerable societal and economic value worth protecting
Precautionary conservation and cooperative global governance are needed to protect Antarctic blue carbon: the world’s largest increasing natural form of carbon storage with high sequestration potential. As patterns of ice‐loss around Antarctica become more uniform, there is an underlying increase in carbon capture‐to‐storage‐to‐sequestration on the seafloor. The amount of carbon captured per unit area is increasing and the area available to blue carbon is also increasing. Carbon sequestration could further increase under moderate (+1 °C) ocean warming, contrary to decreasing global blue carbon stocks elsewhere. For example, in warmer waters, mangroves and seagrasses are in decline and benthic organisms are close to their physiological limits, so a 1°C increase in water temperature could push them above their thermal tolerance (e.g. bleaching of coral reefs). In contrast, on the basis of past change and current research we expect that Antarctic blue carbon could increase by orders of magnitude.