Chapter 5 Conclusions

By our assessment of Blue Carbon soils data quantity quality, spatial and habitat representativeness, the highest scoring states include MA, OR, WA, CA, and FL, though CA could use better spatial coverage and FL could use a larger number of cores. States that need improvement include NJ, NY, MD, VA and ME. NJ needs a larger number of cores and better coverage, NY and VA need high-quality dated cores, and MD and ME need high-quality dated cores and better spatial coverage.

States that score high on our Blue Carbon Report Card tend to have three characteristics: (i) local investment in quantity and quality data, (ii) research projects that have developed in the past 5 years in response to the development of Blue Carbon science, and (iii) researchers who actively collaborate with our network. In Louisiana, a top-down, state-level investment by the CRMS network is responsible for this state’s high spatial and habitat representativeness scores. In Massachusetts, high quality, quantity and spatially representative data are indicative of federal agency investments at opposite ends of the state by the Plum Island Ecosystems LTER (Anne Giblin) and USGS Woods Hole (Meagan Eagle). Much of the quality at a state level can be attributed to individual researchers who use best practices and are committed to contributing to the data synthesis. For LA this includes Katherine Abbott (LSU), Camille Stagg (USGS Lafayette) and Melissa Baustian (Water Institute of the Gulf). For DE this includes Brandon Boyd and Kari St. Laurent (NOAA DE-NERR).

For Oregon and Washington there is a combination of top-down funding and bottom up network participation. Top-down funding in the form of multiple collaborative grants led by Boone Kauffman (Oregon State University) and Craig Cornu. Chris Janouseck is a regional leader in driving synthesis efforts in the Pacific Northwest and individual early-career researchers such as Erin Peck (OSU) and Katrina Poppe (WWU) contributed their new data to the network. States could improve their soil Blue Carbon data standing by repeating the success of the Pacific Northwest and Louisiana models, by making investments in research groups who will produce new data by adopting methodological best-practices developed in the past 5-10 years, synthesizing existing data, and committing to producing thorough, quality-controlled, and timely public release of disaggregated data.

Conversely, in states where improvements could be made, it does not mean data does not exist. In some cases, more investments should be made in new data collection, but in others more incentives should be considered to support researchers in publishing their data.

Lack of detail in national-scale seagrass mapping limits our ability to definitively assess the representativeness of existing data in this habitat, especially in northern States such as Washington, California and Maine where kelp beds are extensive but mapped in the same category as seagrasses. Some local-scale seagrass mapping efforts exist, but scalable, quality-controlled, and independently assessed seagrass mapping products is still an active goal of the scientific community.