Sep 29, 2022
Can you name one underwater forest? If not, you have a good excuse — most of them don't have names yet! Humans are just beginning to grasp the scale and impact of the ocean’s giant-kelp and seaweed forests. We now know they surround about one-fourth of Earth’s coastlines.
In May, scientists stated that the global biome of ocean forests rivals the Amazon rainforest in both total size and net primary production (NPP). NPP helps the Earth's carbon cycle.
More research is needed to learn how much carbon seaweed actually holds, though. These studies will show how the plant can help reduce climate change. But even as the need to study them grows, large expanses of ocean forest have recently disappeared due to climate change. Scientists hope that as sea ice melts and water temperatures rise, some Arctic ocean forests will expand.
Earth’s two currently stable underwater forests do have names. The Great African Seaforest is off of southern Africa, and Australia has the Great Southern Reef.
There are many more ocean forests all over the world. Some include brown kelp (100 feet tall). Others have sea bamboo (50 feet tall). Both of these plants have balloon-like structures that let them create floating canopies. Other ocean forests are home to golden kelp that carpet the seafloor.
Photo by Shane Stagner courtesy of Unsplash.
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