BLUE CARBON & NATURE BASED SOLUTIONS
We explore the ability for blue carbon habitats (salt marshes, seagrass meadows, mangroves, and macroalgae) to store and sequester carbon, serving to mitigate climate change. We conduct this research through field, lab, and modeling approaches. Our ongoing field campaigns collect sediment cores from a multitude of coastal habitats, which are then processed and analyzed ex-situ for carbon content and other attributes such as grain size and isotopic composition. We also work to incorporate these data into national and sub-national climate action plans and into developing carbon offset programs. Institutional collaborators on this work include scientists with the University of Oxford, the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, among many others.
AQUACULTURE AND OCEAN ACIDIFICATION
We investigate how aquaculture can be applied to sustainably to build coastal community resilience to environmental change and other stressors. For example, we have worked with shellfish aquaculture communities along the U.S. West coast to evaluate their vulnerability to Ocean Acidification (OA), from oceanographic, social, and governance perspectives. We also test the idea that marine primary producers can ameliorate OA via photosynthesis, investigating how seagrasses modify seawater carbonate chemistry using in situ, observation-based approaches. We find that in some contexts, seagrasses can significantly raise surrounding pH, which may translate to increased ecosystem resilience to OA. Additional work explores the use of other aquaculture species (e.g., kelp) as strategies for resilience in a changing climate.
Windward Sciences works with coastal habitat restoration projects and practitioners focusing on many habitats, ranging from seagrass meadows to kelp forests to coral reefs. This restoration work is conducted for mitigation, community-led projects, or for state and federal initiatives. Within these projects, we conduct ongoing monitoring and data collection, producing analyses and reports that professionally present and understand restoration outcomes. We also work frequently with restoration communities, stakeholders, and rightsholders to understand the implications and efficacy of restoration, with an eye towards meeting habitat protection and coverage goals (e.g., 30 by 30 initiatives).
selected works and publications
1. Maxwell, T. et al." Global dataset of soil organic carbon in tidal marshes" Nature: Scientific Data. (2023) In Press.
2. Ward, M, and K. Beheshti. “Lessons Learned from over Thirty Years of Eelgrass Restoration on the US West Coast.” Ecosphere e4642, (2023). https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.4642
3. Hamilton, S. L., Kennedy, E., Zulian, M., Hill, T. M., Gaylord, B., Sanford, E., Ricart, A. M., Ward, M., Spalding, A. K., and Kroeker, K. Variable exposure to low pH, hypoxia, and increased temperatures across a marine protected area network has implications for ocean protection. ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsad 120, (2023). https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsad120
4. Green, K. M., Spalding, A. K, Ward, M., Levine, A., Hamilton, S., and Rice, L. Oregon shellfish farmers: Perceptions of stressors, adaptive strategies, and policy linkages. Ocean & Coastal Management (234) 106475, (2023). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman
5. Kennedy. E.G. et al. A high-resolution synthesis dataset for multistressor analyses along the U.S. West Coast. Earth System Science Data (2023). In press.
6. Ward, M., Spalding, A. K., Levine, A. L., and Wolters, E. A. California shellfish farmers: Perceptions of changing ocean conditions and strategies for adaptive capacity. Ocean & Coastal Management (225) 106 -155, (2022). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2022.106155.
(see 2-page summary of this paper here)
7. Ricart, A. M., Ward, M., Hill, T. M., Sanford, E., Kroeker, K., Takeshita, Y., Merolla, S., Shukla, S., Ninokawa, A., Elsmore, K., and Gaylord, B. Commentary: Overstated Potential for Seagrass Meadows to Mitigate Coastal Ocean Acidification. Frontiers in Marine Science (9), 884857, (2022). https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.884857
8. Ward, M., Kindinger, T. Hirsh, H. , Koweek, D., Hill, T. Jellison, B., Lummis, S., Rivest, E., Waldbusser, G., B. Gaylord, and Kroeker, K. Spatial and temporal patterns in seagrass metabolic fluxes. Biogeosciences (19) 689-699, (2022). https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-19-689-2022.
9. Ward, M., Hill, T. M., Souza, C., Filipczyk, T., Ricart, A. M., Merolla, S., Capece, L. R., O’Donnell, B. C., Elsmore, K., Oechel, W. C., and Beheshti, K. M. Blue Carbon Stocks and Exchanges Along the Pacific West Coast. Biogeosciences (18) 4717-4732, (2021). https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-18-4717-2021.
10. Ricart, A. M., Ward, M., Hill, T. M., Sanford, E., Kroeker, K., Takeshita, Y., Merolla, S., Shukla, S., Ninokawa, A., Elsmore, K., and Gaylord, B. Coast-wide evidence of low pH amelioration by seagrass ecosystems. Global Change Biology (00) 1-12, (2021). https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15594
11. Ricart, A. M., Gaylord, B., Hill, T.M, Sigwart, J. Shukla, P., Ward, M., Ninokawa, A. and Sanford, E. Seagrass driven changes in carbonate chemistry enhance oyster growth. Oecologia, (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-021-04949-0
12. Ward, M., Hill, T. M., Ricart, A., Gaylord, B., O'Donnell, B C., Capece, L., Shukla, P., Kroeker, K., Sanford, E., and W. Oechel. Synthesizing Multiple Carbon Fluxes in a Temperate, Pacific Seagrass Meadow. Global Biogeochemical Cycles (in review).
13. P. A. Bowler, Beheshti, K., Brutto, A., Drake, C., Koshniat, T., Ward, M., and K. Wong. Diocey in Riparian Environments and the Implications for Restoration. Ecological Restoration 36(4): 272 - 275, (2018). doi:10.3368/er.36.4.272
Selected technical reports and white papers
Ward, M. et al. Developing a UK Seagrass Carbon Code. (pdf found here, 2 page summary here). University of Oxford, June 2023.
Ward, M., McHugh, T. A., Elsmore, K., Esgro, M., Ray, J., Murphy-Cannella, M., Norton, I. and Freiwald, J. Restoration of North Coast Bull Kelp Forests: A Partnership Based Approach. California Reef Check, May 2022. (pdf found here).
Nichols, K and M. Ward. Newport Bay Caulerpa prolifera Suurveys. Prepared for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ward, M. and K. Beheshti. Eelgrass Restoration on the U.S. West Coast: A Comprehensive Assessment of Restoration Techniques and Their Outcomes. Prepared for: Pew Charitable Trusts by the Pacific Marine Environmental Partnership. 2021. (pdf found here)
(Accompanying data search tool here)
A Carbon Neutral California: Blue Carbon Sequestration along California’s Coast. CCST Expert Briefing Series. 2020. (pdf found here)
Ward, M. Blue Carbon: Seagrass as a Tool for Ocean Acidification and Climate Change Management in California. Prepared for: the California Ocean Protection Council, the California Ocean Science Trust. 2016. (pdf found here)
Ward, M. Recommendations for leadership actions to protect West coast eelgrass. Scientific sign-on
letter. Prepared for: Pew Charitable Trusts and the Audubon Society. 2020.