Source to Sea lead by Dr Christian Schroeder, University of Stirling

Scotland’s peatlands provide some of the UK’s most significant carbon stores. Rivers draining these peatlands carry a large load of organic matter and deliver this carbon to the surrounding seas. Recent research has shown that sediments in Scottish sea lochs store significant amounts of carbon, and that the majority of that carbon stems from terrestrial sources.

To evaluate Scotland’s and the UK’s carbon footprint it is important to understand carbon sources and sinks, and in particular how they will respond to global climate change (increasing temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns and amounts, ocean acidification, sea level rise) and land/ocean use changes (change in land use, growing aquaculture in sea lochs).

The coastal ocean is at the boundary between terrestrial and marine research. The forum provides a platform that enables engagement with a wide variety of stakeholders beyond the traditional reach of SAGES, yet capitalizing on one of the core themes of SAGES – terrestrial carbon.

The Scottish landscape with its extensive peatlands, closely-coupled terrestrial and coastal systems, and diverse land uses and physical environments within a small area lends itself as a model system for such research in a global context. With Arctic sea ice retreating and increased thawing of permafrost, the influence of much larger North American and Eurasian catchments on the northern ocean becomes more uncertain, yet ever more important to understand.