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The blue carbon reservoirs from Maine to Long Island, NY

August 8, 2023

In response to the New England Governor and Eastern Canadian Premier 2017 Climate Change Action Plan recommendation to “manage blue carbon resources to preserve and enhance their existing carbon reservoirs,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) convened a New England Blue Carbon Inventory Workgroup, comprised of a variety of federal, state, academic, and non-profit organizations to develop an inventory of blue carbon stocks from Maine to Long Island, New York. The Workgroup focused its inventory efforts on salt marshes and eelgrass meadows, leveraging existing habitat maps for geographic data. Existing data for soil organic carbon stocks were then used to calculate blue carbon stock estimates. For visual display purposes, sediment carbon heat maps were developed to highlight areas of greatest carbon accumulation. The habitat distribution and sediment carbon heat maps can be accessed on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal ( which is a public source of expert-reviewed, interactive maps and data on the ocean ecosystem, economy, and culture of the northeastern United States and can be used to facilitate decision making by government agencies, tribal nations, businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, and individuals. Based on available data and Workgroup calculations, the target geographic area has an estimated 218,222 acres of eelgrass meadows, salt marsh and saline Phragmites, which are estimated to provide a reservoir of 7,523,568 megagrams of blue carbon, or the equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from over 5,944,024 passenger vehicles. Due to data limitations, the carbon stock estimate represents a mere fraction of the actual quantity of accumulated carbon in these habitats. The findings from the Workgroup’s efforts and the resulting map products can help inform land and coastal management policies, fisheries management, and climate change mitigation practices. Further refinements and expansion of data are needed, including more detailed habitat maps, deeper soil core data for soil organic carbon content, and inclusion of more marine flora into calculations.

Publication Year 2023
Title The blue carbon reservoirs from Maine to Long Island, NY
Authors Philip D. Colarusso, Zamir Libohova, Emily Shumchenia, Meagan J. Eagle, Megan Christian, Robert Vincent, Beverly Johnson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Index ID 70249411
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center