Blue Carbon in Marine Protected Areas

At the start of the school year, I never would have guessed I would be working from my apartment in Monterey. I am interning for the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) office working on blue carbon sequestration and storage within the sanctuary boundaries. The GFNMS office has been very welcoming and supportive as I begin work on Blue Carbon storage in the sanctuary. I have been working for three weeks and since the start I hit the ground running reading and writing for my comprehensive literature review on blue carbon in marine protected areas. This is a burgeoning field and there are considerable gaps in our knowledge and understanding of how much carbon can be sequestered by oceanic ecosystems, however I am excited to participate in the growing body of knowledge.

During my second week, I had the privilege of sitting in on an international working group meeting on blue carbon with countries such as the UK, Chile, Costa Rica, and France. The US and Chile presented on current work conducted within national boundaries on blue carbon restoration and lessons they have learned through the process. Every country is taking a different approach, based on their ecosystem types and the feasibility of restoration or protection, however it was fascinating to watch this level of collaboration in a field that is just beginning to take off.

As a labor through my literature review, I am beginning to start the next phase of my internship doing a Tier 1 analysis of all the blue carbon sequestration in GFNMS. I am working with the NOAA GIS specialist to map the areas and extent of salt marshes, kelp beds, and seagrass meadows. Once this is complete, the sanctuary will have a more complete picture of how much carbon is stored in their boundaries and how restoration projects might increase sequestration. With sequestration rates firmly understood, we are inquiring about entering into the voluntary carbon markets and how much money can be garnered from restoration and protection of current carbon pools.

My internship has been keeping me busy through all my reading, writing, researching, economics accounting, and working on GIS. While I am disappointed, I cannot work directly at the GFNMS office, living and working in Monterey has its perks. For one, whenever I need a break I can hop on my bike and ride along 17-mile drive or run along the Asilomar coastal trail path. Making my own hours and having a flexible schedule is allowing me to put my best foot forward in work and spend more time with friends and family.

As my internship moves forward, I will be working to publish my literature review and GIS project while initiating a comprehensive set of recommendations for international marine protected area managers on blue carbon storage. For the next month I will be moving my view from the beach in Monterey to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado to spend time with friends and family!

The beach after a long day of reading and writing!

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