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With HorizonEurope funding, the SEA-Quester project will investigate the unique polar facets of carbon sequestration in both the Arctic and Southern oceans

February 1, 2024 – This new project, funded by the EU Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, brings together partners from Europe and beyond to study the phenomenon of polar blue carbon. This effort is intended to better understand how profound physical and biodiversity changes in our polar marine environments, brought on by anthropogenic climate change, will translate to the invisible world of marine carbon cycling, and what this might mean for mitigation, adaptation, and resilience to future changes. GRID-Arendal is leading communications and dissemination for the four-year project, which held its inaugural kick-off meeting from February 27-29, 2024 in Lyngby, Denmark.

As our polar oceans and adjacent seas experience dramatic physical changes, like sea-ice loss, sea-level rise, an influx of glacial meltwater and sediments, and increasing ocean acidity, we are already witnessing impacts to marine biodiversity in the form of changing species distribution, behaviors, and metabolism. SEA-Quester will further investigate how these drivers affect the critical ecosystem service of oceanic carbon sequestration at the poles (or polar blue carbon), building off previous work from EU projects like ECOTIP and FACE-IT, and in collaboration with the EU Polar Cluster.

Cruises to the fjords and shelf seas around Greenland, Svalbard, and the Southern Ocean, coupled with modeling and remote sensing observations, will investigate the uptake and storage of carbon as it moves from coastal ecosystems (such as kelp forests) to the open ocean, where biological processes related to plankton, fish, and bottom-dwelling organisms play an important role in determining the ultimate fate of the carbon our oceans take out of the atmosphere (the biological pump). By contributing both sound science and creating new management tools, SEA-Quester will help tackle the challenges and address tradeoffs in protecting and managing Arctic marine areas, while shedding light on the mitigation potential of natural carbon sequestration processes.

SEA-Quester runs from February 1st, 2024 to January 31st, 2028, and is a collaboration between the following partners: Technical University of Denmark, DTU-Aqua (Denmark, Lead), University of Bremen (Germany), Greenland Climate Research Centre, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GINR, Greenland), Alfred-Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar & Marine Research (Germany), Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research (IOW, Germany), Åbo Akademi University (Finland), Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAN), GRID-Arendal (Norway), Hereon Helmholtz-Zentrum (Germany), and Aarhus University (Denmark).

SEA-Quester will contribute to building a low-carbon future with healthy oceans in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, the Convention for Biological Diversity, the EU Green Deal, and the ongoing UN Ocean Decade.

SEA-Quester received funding under Grant Agreement No: 101136480. Our sister project, Polar Ocean Mitigation Potential (POMP) was also funded under the same call HORIZON-CL6-2023-CLIMATE-01-3.

Views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. The European Union cannot be held responsible for them.

Release date: 01 Feb 2024

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