Can Seaweed Farming Play a Role in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation?

Carlos M. Duarte*, Jiaping Wu, Xi Xiao, Annette Bruhn, Dorte Krause-Jensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

333 Scopus citations


Seaweed aquaculture, the fastest-growing component of global food production, offers a slate of opportunities to mitigate, and adapt to climate change. Seaweed farms release carbon that maybe buried in sediments or exported to the deep sea, therefore acting as a CO2 sink. The crop can also be used, in total or in part, for biofuel production, with a potential CO2 mitigation capacity, in terms of avoided emissions from fossil fuels, of about 1,500 tons CO2 km−2 year−1. Seaweed aquaculture can also help reduce the emissions from agriculture, by improving soil quality substituting synthetic fertilizer and when included in cattle fed, lowering methane emissions from cattle. Seaweed aquaculture contributes to climate change adaptation by damping wave energy and protecting shorelines, and by elevating pH and supplying oxygen to the waters, thereby locally reducing the effects of ocean acidification and de-oxygenation. The scope to expand seaweed aquaculture is, however, limited by the availability of suitable areas and competition for suitable areas with other uses, engineering systems capable of coping with rough conditions offshore, and increasing market demand for seaweed products, among other factors. Despite these limitations, seaweed farming practices can be optimized to maximize climate benefits, which may, if economically compensated, improve the income of seaweed farmers.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - Apr 12 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) through the baseline fund to CD. AB was supported by the MacroAlgae Biorefinery 4 (MAB4) and the Macrofuels projects, funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654010, respectively. DK received financial support from the COCOA project under the BONUS programme, which is funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme and the Danish Research Council. JW and XX were supported by the International Science and Technology Cooperation Program of China (Grant No. 2015DFA01410).


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