PhD - Macroalgae Blue Carbon

MBIE Smart Idea – Macroalgae/kelp as a carbon sequestration tool

NIWA and Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington

Level: PhD


The focus of the research is to investigate the potential of using kelp-derived “blue carbon” sequestration as a developing opportunity to mitigate climate change by effectively burying kelp carbon in marine sediments.  We plan to quantify the accumulation of kelp-derived carbon in deep-sea environments (continental shelf, slope, and submarine canyons) in the vicinity of natural kelp beds using a range of techniques, including molecular (DNA) and stable isotope organic compound biomarkers as well as modelling of ocean currents and radiometric dating of sediments (radiocarbon, lead isotopes) to determine accumulation rates. 

The information will flow into national policies on carbon budgets with potential inclusion into future carbon markets.  This will incentivise the protection of natural kelp beds and the development of kelp aquaculture, not only for its nutritional, pharmaceutical, mussel co-culture, agricultural, energy and bioremediation opportunities, but also for biological carbon capture and storage.  Māori have significant cultural and commercial interests in macroalgae/kelp as does the aquaculture industry.   

Geographical focus will be on Te Moana o Raukawakawa Cook Strait, including Te Tau Ihu Marlborough Sounds and potentially Kaikōura.

Closing Date: 15 December 2021

Contact: Prof Joe Zuccarello (

More information and application details.

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