Kelp Carbon Science Study

A project of SeaTrees, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Silvestrum Climate Associates

Goals of Study

1. Scientific research to quantify carbon sequestration potential of kelp forests

2. Policy work to enable kelp forest conservation as a blue carbon resource 

3. Potential development of a Verra carbon offset methodology for kelp forests


Project Development Lead


Lead scientist

Dr. Jen Smith

Key Science Questions

1. Quantify atmospheric CO2 sequestered permanently in the ocean

- Air-sea gas exchange

- Export of carbon to sediments and deep ocean

- Seasonal variability of kelp forests

- Data and modeling during large storm and wave events

2. Quantify carbon contained in a healthy kelp forest (REDD+ analogue)

- Total carbon conserved through kelp forest management

Methodology Development Lead

Dr. Steve Crooks

Kelp Conservation Partner

The Bay Foundation

BLUE+ Methodology

1. Analogue to REDD+ but for kelp forests

2. Restores and protects healthy kelp forests

- Carbon quantified from both sequestration and carbon contained in living forest, each year

3. Combines funding streams:

- Carbon finance from Verra VCUs

- Local community support

- Fishing and tourism revenue

- Government support


Current Activities

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

- Hire full-time project scientist to drive project forward

- Finalize research plan and budget

- Organize kelp science workshop in Q1 2023

- Initial research and data collection in La Jolla kelp forest (Q3-4 2022)

Silvestrum Climate Associates

- Review of existing and proposed blue carbon methodologies for kelp, across multiple carbon registries

- Review of existing and proposed research projects for kelp carbon, around the world

- Participate in workshops to educate scientists on carbon market requirements for methodology development

Sustainable Surf / SeaTrees

- Project management

- Policy development and partnerships with California legislators, agencies and other NGOs

- Fundraising

- Media and content creation