What is Blue Carbon? Blue carbon is the ability of tidal wetlands and seagrass habitats to capture and store carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.

NEW Blue Carbon Infographic

Check out blue carbon science in action in our new blue carbon short, filmed in the Snohomish Estuary in Puget Sound, WA, with local member group EarthCorps

What to know about Blue Carbon:

  • An investment in wetland restoration results in many important benefits to a community, including blue carbon storage (aka climate mitigation), improved water quality, critical marine habitat, and storm and flood mitigation (resiliency).
  • Wetlands act as amazing "carbon sponges" but can release that stored carbon when drained or degraded.
  • Wetland restoration offers a place-based approach to addressing rising atmospheric carbon levels while also providing many benefits to the local community. 

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Learn more about Blue Carbon:

Restore America's Estuaries is leading the U.S. effort to advance Blue Carbon by:

Learn the basics: Blue Carbon Fact Sheet


More about Blue Carbon

Blue carbon is the ability of tidal wetlands and seagrass habitats to sequester, store or release carbon and other greenhouse gases.

Blue carbon ecosystems – seagrass beds, mangroves, salt marshes, and other tidal wetlands –  capture atmospheric carbon and store it in the ground at rates 10 times greater than forests on a per area basis. Unlike forests, wetlands' primarily carbon storage is in the soils (rather than in the above ground plant materials) where it can remain stored for centuries or more.1 

When these ecosystems are drained or degraded, the stored carbon can be rapidly released back into the atmosphere - sometimes releasing centuries worth of stored carbon in only a few decades. Protecting our remaining coastal wetland ecosystems not only protects the ecosystem services provided by these habitats (improved water quality, storm protection, key marine habitat) , but it can also be a way to mitigate climate change. 

Nexus of Restoration, Mitigation and Adaptation

The Intersection of Coastal Habitat Restoration, Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Planning

Climate change - through a warming world, sea-level rise, and changing precipitation patterns - will significantly reshape our coastal landscape. In many ways, our coasts and estuaries are both the first line of defense and a measuring stick for climate change impacts. Coastal and estuarine habitat restoration is a key strategy in adapting to climate change, as well as mitigating its impacts.

Through conservation efforts, the carbon stored in wetland stays locked up in plant material and soil. Through restoration efforts, more carbon can be sequestered by wetlands, thus mitigating climate change, while providing for all of the other important services wetlands provide.


Carbon Comparisons:

hummer pic


Hummer driving 15,000 miles emits 11 tons CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents)



prius pic


Prius driving 15,000 miles emits 3.7 tons CO2e



wetland pic


 ....while just 1 hectare (about 0.004 square miles) of Salt Marsh REMOVES 8 tons CO2e every year.



Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Wetlands store the majority of carbon in their soils. When wetland soils are disturbed, carbon stored in salt marshes and mangroves may be released directly into the atmosphere through oxidation, which converts soil carbon into atmospheric CO2. An estimated 0.15 to 1.02 billion tons of CO2 are released every year due to the degredation or destruction of wetlands. This is roughly equivalent to the total emissions of Japan in 2008, signifying a need to protect our remaining wetland resources.

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1E. Pidgeon. 2009. “Carbon Sequestration by Coastal Marine Habitats: Important Missing Sinks.”



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Blue Carbon Directory

Blue Carbon Homepage - What is blue carbon? Learn the basics.

Blue Carbon Science & Projects - Understand how wetlands store and sequester carbon to mitigate climate change, and take a look at a first of its kind study.

Carbon Markets and Standards - Carbon standards, offsets and more explained here.

Blue Carbon Capacity Building - Access past workshop presentations. 

Blue Carbon Webinars- Access past webinars on blue carbon basics and application

Blue Carbon Events - Be sure to check this page often for updates on blue carbon events.

RAE Blue Carbon Timeline - See our blue carbon progress through the years.

RAE Blue Carbon Partners - Advancing blue carbon is a team effort and we thank all our partners for their support!

Additional Resources - Learn more about blue carbon with this list of papers and reports.