Stock Groups

Drone images give hope for return of kelp on U.S. West coast By Reuters


© Reuters. Saunders Reef, California, U.S.A, September 21st, 2021, shows a kelp forest. This picture was taken by a drone September 21st, 2021. REUTERS/Nathan Frandino


By Nathan Frandino

GUALALA, Calif. (Reuters) – Tranquil images of the Pacific Ocean taken by a drone show that California’s kelp forests may be making a comeback after years of depletion, bringing good news in the fight against climate change.

    Kelp helps reduce global warming through its ability to absorb carbon dioxide via photosynthesis. However, a study has shown that the kelp forests have been drastically reduced along Northern California’s Coast. A number of studies show that there is an increase in sea temperature and diseases, leading to a more than 95% drop since 2013.

    However, a Nature Conservancy team has seen signs of some recovery during drone survey off Mendocino and Sonoma County’s kelp forest.

    Vienna Saccomanno is Nature Conservancy’s director of kelp monitoring, mapping and research. In 2019, the group tried their first attempt to map kelp forest using drones. However, it was difficult to find anything, she said. A surge in sea urchins (which eat kelp) added to the chaos.

    There was literally no kelp. It was thrilling to witness the strong rise in kelp, being out there in 2021,” she stated.

    Drones hover 400 feet (12 m) high, but are close enough to the beach to take photos. These images can then be woven together into a mosaic-like picture to gain a deeper understanding of kelp forests. Saccomanno says scientists have seen more brown seaweed in recent years. This is due to cooler, nutrient-rich water that helps kelp thrive.

    According to the Nature Conservancy’s drone survey, the average size for kelp canopy in 2019 was 1 acre. By 2020 it had grown up to 5 acres. For this year, the numbers have not been released.

    However, Kelp canopy levels are below their historical average.

    Saccomanno explained that the ecosystem was not in its full balance yet and still needs to be restored.

    Kirk Klausmeyer is the director of data science at Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter. He said that drone technology was vital in providing information about the health of the Kelp.

    We need as many data points as we can to solve problems such as these. Drones can provide us with high-resolution photographs of individual kelp plant kelp trees, he explained.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. CFDs are stocks, indexes or futures. The prices of Forex and CFDs are not supplied by exchanges. Instead, they are determined by marketmakers. As such, the prices might not reflect market conditions and could be incorrect. Fusion Media does not accept any liability for trade losses that you may incur due to the use of these data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Trading the financial markets is the most risky investment form. Please make sure you are fully aware of all the costs and risks involved.