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Fjords Are Helping ‘Fight’ Global Warming By Sequestering Large Amounts Of Carbon Dioxide, Study Finds

Fjords of Norway and Alaska are known for their otherworldly beauty, but according to the latest study, they also play an important role in the carbon cycle.

The study published, which was published on May 4 in the journal Nature Geoscience, reveals that even though fjords account for only 0.3 percent of the Earth’s surface area, they sequester 18 million tonnes of carbon annually— accounting for 11 percent of the total absorbed by marine sediment.

The team measured the concentration of carbon in 573 fjord surface sediment samples and 124 sediment cores from nearly all of the fjord systems in the world. The scientists found that every square kilometer of fjord sediments sequesters five times more carbon than the equivalent area of ocean’s continental shelves— a region known to be the home of second best carbon absorbing sediments.

According to a 2014 carbon sequestration study, oceans account for 30 percent of anthropogenic (originating from human activity) carbon dioxide absorption in the world, which is about the same share as forests.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Irina Overeem” author_title=”Sediment geologist at the University of Colorado Boulder”]

These findings make perfect sense. Fjords are often flanked by steep, lushly forested peaks, putting them in the perfect position to collect the carbon-rich soils that run off the slopes.


Carbon burial is an important natural process that provides the largest carbon sink on the planet and influences atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at multi-thousand-year time scales, according to

Scientists who study carbon cycles have always been inclined to focus on larger bodies of water because oceans cover roughly 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and are easy to monitor with Earth-observing satellites while fjords, which are only 2 to 3 kilometers wide, are more difficult to map.

“Fjords are also hard to study from the ground,” Overeem says. “Many have no roads leading to them, and can only be accessed by helicopter. Taking samples when there is ice is impossible, and for some places, like Greenland, that is about nine months of the year.”

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Goulven Laruelle” author_title=”Geochemist at the Free University of Brussels”]

Given such challenges, the study’s authors have compiled an impressive collection of data.


However, there is still a lot to learn about individual fjords. Alaska’s fjords are known to absorb more carbon than other fjords in other locations, which scientists have yet to determine the cause of.

In other carbon dioxide related news here on Immortal News, microbes eating melting Arctic soil could become a new, major source of carbon dioxide emission, according to a 4-year-long study.

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