Sharks, scientists and tech innovators team up – Blue Carbon Project in action

R-evolution has joined forces with Beneath The Waves to explore and ultimately scale the potential of the world’s biggest nature-based carbon sink: seagrass meadows. The project leverages satellite data, marine vessel surveys, scuba divers, sensor tagged tiger sharks and airborne bathymetric LiDAR technology from Hexagon to detect, map and capture critical details about this vital habitat off the coast of Bahamas.


 

Seagrass is an important part of the coastal biodiversity ecosystem, providing a habitat for small fish and a food source for migratory birds. As a blue carbon ecosystem, seagrass meadows are also crucial to solving environmental challenges, yet they remain among the least recognised and least protected ecological habitats. Blue carbon ecosystems refer to coastal and marine vegetated habitats, such as seagrass meadows, salt marshes, and mangrove forests, that naturally sequester and store carbon. Due to their capacity to store organic carbons in sediments, seagrass meadows are 5-8 times more efficient in carbon capture than forests. And, since most carbon is stored in soil and sediments, it can remain there for millennia if left undisturbed.

Current measurement techniques by satellite and boats are not accurate or efficient enough to validate wide areas of seagrass. Utilising Beneath The Waves’ science and aqua experience and Hexagon’s world leading bathymetric LiDAR, we can play an essential role in supporting, preserving and unlocking the power of nature to build climate resilience.


 

R-evolution’s deployment of survey aircraft geared with one of Hexagon’s airborne bathymetric LiDAR solutions, the Leica Chiroptera 4X, enables the cost-effective, rapid survey of large areas. Compared to current satellite- and vessel-based mapping solutions, airborne bathymetry provides more detailed maps at a faster pace and across larger areas—accurately mapping thousands of square kilometres of seabed habitats at up to 30 metres water depth in just a few days.


 

 

Bathymetric surveying supports environmental monitoring by mapping and classifying submerged vegetation and habitat to assess aquacultures, study marine ecology and hydrodynamics.


Why use airborne bathymetric LiDAR?


  • Seagrass for carbon sequestration is hampered by a lack of accurate measurement
  • Mapping of large areas with vessels, divers and sharks is a long and resource-heavy process
  • Airborne survey can improve the efficiency, resolutions and accuracy of the survey while covering the same area in just a few days, offering a more time- and cost-effective solution
  • Bathymetric LiDAR mapping is easily repeatable, offering an excellent basis for year-on-year change detection and monitoring
  • LiDAR point clouds provide 3D elevation and land classification information with higher positional accuracy and spatial resolutions compared to the 2D coverage of satellite data
  • Airborne bathymetry systems are optimised for shallow water data collection, which makes them ideal for mapping seagrass which grows primarily in water depths of 30 metres and less


This project has the potential to launch one of the world’s most impactful nature-based mitigation efforts while protecting biodiversity in the Caribbean Islands and beyond at the same time.

Watch the HxGN TV episode with Erik Joseffson, the CEO of R-evolution, and Andy Waddington, the VP of Bathymetric Services at Leica Geosystems, part of Hexagon discuss the blue carbon project at HxGN Live 2022.



To learn more about R-evolution's work in green-tech innovations, visit https://r-evolution.com/r-initiatives.