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The Full Story

Global Saltmarsh Database

Data Driven Climate Solutions: Unveiling a Global Soil Carbon Database


Dr Tania Maxwell is a Research Scholar in the Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation group of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria. She is currently working on the RESIST project "Resilience of Ecosystem Services provided by Intact and Sustainably managed Terrestrial ecosystems" with Florian Holfhansl.

Tania recently completed a postdoc as part of the Global Coastal Wetlands team of the Conservation Science Group at the Department of Zoology of the University of Cambridge, where she published the "Global dataset of soil organic carbon in tidal marshes". This paper, accompanied by a global soil carbon dataset for saltmarshes, will serve as a basis for future work in saltmarsh ecosystems, and may help us to understand how saltmarshes can help in the fight against climate change through climate change mitigation.

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Vision of the paper

This project aimed to produce an accessible and globally-comprehensive dataset which will produce globally-representative estimations of soil carbon from saltmarshes. Prior to this paper being published, there were no such datasets publicly available for saltmarsh ecosystems, none which were comparable to those published for other coastal blue carbon ecosystems (e.g., mangroves).

Tania’s determination and diligence has led to a dataset which will undoubtedly be a significant step forward for the field of blue carbon research. It stands as the first blue carbon global dataset to be accompanied by a dedicated data paper. This combination of easily accessible data and a meticulously detailed data paper will allow for fellow scientists to not only replicate research but also expand and analyse the database to gain insights into the global distribution of carbon in saltmarshes. This heightened understanding of global soil carbon distribution will pave the way for targeted restoration and conservation efforts in critical blue carbon regions.

Global dataset

Over 4,000 papers were scanned during the initial literature review, which searched for various key terms related to soil carbon. Over the next year and a half, the 4,000 papers were whittled down to the 99 most important studies, which supplied the data needed for the database. The finalised database consisted of 17,000 data points from more than 2,000 locations spanning 30 countries.

Tania’s project emphasises the importance of data availability for more profound insights. As such, Tania’s message to readers and aspiring scientists is that data needs to be shared and shared in a consistent format accessible for machine comprehension. It is essential for scientists to continue to ensure this message is considered as this equips us to devise solutions for mitigating current, and potential future, climate change.

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