Blue Carbon Study Illustrates Climate Benefits in the Snohomish Estuary

Environmental Science Associates (ESA), a leading west coast environmental consulting firm, recently completed a landmark study demonstrating the climate change benefits of “blue carbon” tidal wetland restoration. Carbon-based greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. The study found that functioning tidal wetlands actually store carbon, removing it from the atmosphere and from causing further environmental harm.

ESA collaborated with Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), EarthCorps, and Western Washington University, on the “Coastal Blue Carbon Opportunity Assessment for Snohomish Estuary: The Climate Benefits of Estuary Restoration” study that finds major climate change mitigation benefits from tidal wetland restoration. This methodology can now be transferred and applied to other geographies. Lead funding was provided by NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation, with additional support provided by The Boeing Company and the Wildlife Forever Fund.

ESA’s Climate Change Director, Steve Crooks, PhD, said, “The Snohomish Blue Carbon Assessment highlights the robust recovery and the resilience of restoration projects in the Snohomish Estuary to sea level rise as well as the high potential for carbon sequestration. It is now important to look across the wider region to integrate the potential additional climate change benefits of wetland restoration as part of Puget Sound recovery activities.”

ESA’s Project Manager, Danielle Devier, oversaw the report preparation and conducted large-scale spatial analyses for this innovative study. When asked about the Snohomish Blue Carbon Assessment, she said, “This study was a compelling project, quantifying and describing long-term change in a highly dynamic landscape. We tackled innovative issues, such as the linkage between preserving our coastline and climate change.”

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