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Seaweed thatch roofs

 
pollinator
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Eelgrass becomes fully waterproof after about a year and has insulation properties comparable to those of mineral wool, a dense, fibrous material made from molten glass, stone or industrial waste. A roof can last hundreds of years – one of island’s remaining seaweed roofs dates more than 300 years – for comparison, a concrete tile roof typically lasts around 50./quote]

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20200805-denmarks-300-year-old-homes-of-the-future?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.com%2F

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Wow - thanks for posting this link! As someone who lives near an ocean, and who knows there are local organizations trying to rehabilitate our eelgrass "meadows" because they're important fish habitat, it's great to be aware of potentially sustainable traditional uses.

The lack of sustainability in "modern roofing" techniques bugs me a lot - lot's of embodied energy and toxins that often last less than 25 years. The article says that "one roof is over 300 years old", but it would be interesting to know what a typical lifespan would be. The fact that it is both breathable and good insulation is intriguing.

This line worried me a little:

"But, after a fungal disease wiped out much of the eelgrass in the 1920s, knowledge of the technique slowly vanished."

Does anyone know if this is a world-wide fungal disease and whether or not the eelgrass has overcome this problem?
 
Chris Sturgeon
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I don't know about the fungal infection they referenced. I'll have to do some looking up.
I do know that when we killed all the sea otters on the West coast of BC in the early 1900's (for their soft double insulated furs) the sea weed beds were nearly destroyed  by the sea urchins who used to be kept in check by predation.
These beds were where rock cod, juvenile salmon and other keystone species thrived.

Now that some otters have reestablished on Northern Vancouver Island (shipped south from Alaska in the 80's) some kelp beds are back, but local shellfish populations are down.

What does this have to do with eelgrass? I don't know, other than the fact that humans are very bad at understanding complex biomes.
 
Chris Sturgeon
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Does anyone know if this is a world-wide fungal disease and whether or not the eelgrass has overcome this problem?



Here's an abstract I found from a 1990's study:

ABSTRACT
Wasting disease of the 1930's
An attempt was made to correlate wasting disease of the 1930's with factors such as seawater temperature, salinity
and sunshine, in order to establish a possible link with mechanisms behind climatic cycles, such as the sunspot
cycle, and the related Russell cycle.
Europe. Salinity and seawater temperature fluctuations could not have contributed significantly to eelgrass stress,
but there is a good correlation with reduced sunshine and raised turbidity levels. This correlation was verified with
an existing computor simulation model for eelgrass growtb. In the Netherlands, the response of eelgrass to adverse
light conditions was probably much enhanced by the activities associated with the closure of the Zuyder Sea in
1932.
USA. Salinilies and temperatures were above average, but ccrtainty not uniquely or dramaticaüy so, while sunshine
was well above average. No possible causal link could be established between climatic factors and wasting disease
inidation. This lends support (o the suggestion by Short et al (1987) that the wasting disease epidemie was perhaps
caused by the emergence of a pathogenic strain oi Labyrinthula.



The link: Wasting-disease-and-present-eelgrass-condition
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
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Bump.  Mollison says there's enough eelgrass to insulate everyone.  In the pamphlets.  Maybe they're more prevalent in the southern hemisphere?
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