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Exploring the underwater world to combat climate change  

Velocity startup Coastal Carbon is using AI to revolutionize voluntary carbon market

Many major companies are looking to offset greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits through the voluntary carbon market to claim net zero greenhouse emissions. 
But current nature-based carbon credits completely overlook the ocean — the world’s largest carbon sink. 

That’s where Coastal Carbon comes in. 
Co-founded by Kelly Zheng (BASc ‘19) and Thomas Storwick (BASc ‘19), Coastal Carbon is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to measure blue carbon credits for kelp farmers.

Co-founders Zheng and Storwick researching on the Salish Sea, BC.

“The ocean is a huge resource to fight climate change that is currently inaccessible because determining carbon credits in the ocean is so difficult to analyze,” Storwick said. “But there is a lot of satellite data available.” 
Zheng said due to how difficult it is to analyze, there haven’t been many attempts to learn from satellite images of the underwater world, leaving its potential untapped. 
“We are making use of this plethora of data, using artificial intelligence to detect and quantify what’s underwater,” Zheng said. “Think Google Maps but for the ocean.” 
Kelp is one of the fastest growing organisms in the world. It provides large amounts of carbon sequestering and produces a variety of products including food derivatives and bio-stimulants like fertilizers. 
Coastal Carbon is working with interested parties on both the supply and demand side: kelp farmers, ones who are both established and others who interested in farming to sell carbon credits, and companies seeking neutrality looking to purchase carbon credits. 
“Sellers want to get what they deserve based on what they are producing, and the demand wants quality carbon credits,” Storwick said. “Our objective is to develop the technology and work with scientific experts in the field.” 
The pair has achieved incredible success in the four short months since founding Coastal Carbon. 
They have secured $65,000 in various funding, including through Velocity’s Up Start which supports research to commercialization efforts. And since joining Velocity in January the team has doubled to support its goals — to establish pilot projects with Kelp farmers and start beta testing.

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