Evaluating carbon storage capacity in seabed organisms


Polar continental shelves are one of the few places on the planet that are accumulating more carbon as climate change increases – this is called a negative feedback. How will regional warming influence how much carbon (blue carbon) is captured and accumulated by life on the seabed around Antarctica? To answer this question, our project will deploy camera-equipped Agassiz trawls and box cores to collect benthos (organisms living on, in, or near the seabed). The samples will enable us to quantify how much carbon is held within seabed animals, how this varies around Antarctica and how it changes in response to climate. Previous work (by members of our team) has shown that life on continental shelves of Atlantic sector islands around Antarctica are an important and increasing carbon sink. Although poorly studied and understood, this appears to be a powerful negative feedback against climate change that this project attempts to better understand. Our team of international benthic experts will sample the shelf around each island and evaluate seabed carbon capture and storage in organisms by identifying the composition of biodiversity and how much organic and inorganic carbon is present. They will examine the skeletons of long-lived organisms to determine how carbon accumulation has varied over years and decades.


Principal Investigator (PI)

David K A Barnes

British Antarctic Survey, NERC, UK


Antarctic Seabed Carbon Capture Change


Principal institution / country

  • University of Tasmania (Australia)
  • University of Bruxelles (Belgium)
  • University of Bourgogne (France)
  • Alfred Wegner Institut & Senckenberg (Germany)
  • University of Bergen (Norway)
  • University of the South (Peru)
  • P.P. Shirshov Institute (Russia)