Florida State University researchers analyzed carbon exported from surface waters of the California Current ecosystem – the first study ever to estimate total carbon sequestration in a region of the ocean.
The study published in Nature Communicationsserves as a framework for assessing how the processes that sequester carbon may change in a warmer world, while creating a blueprint for similar budgets in other ocean regions.
Understanding the carbon cycle—the sources and reservoirs of carbon—is an important focus of Earth sciences. Several studies have examined the carbon sequestered by sinking particles formed from algal production. Fewer studies have focused on plankton particles that travel to the ocean depths through other routes or marine life that migrate vertically through ocean layers.
“Our study is the first to bring all these different processes together to fully investigate the processes driving the biological carbon pump of a major ocean region,” said lead author Michael Stockl, Associate Professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Florida State University. .
Stukel and his team found that a combination of processes contribute to the movement of organic carbon through the marine ecosystem. Their analysis confirmed that sinking particles are the dominant carbon transfer process, but they also found that particles carried by ocean currents and zooplankton that migrate to the ocean depths each day contribute 30 to 40 percent of the carbon sequestered in the deep ocean.
The data comes from 15 years of research trips conducted by the Long-Term Environmental Research Program of the Existing California Ecosystem in an area stretching from San Diego to Monterey Bay and stretching about 300 miles offshore. Stukel and his team combined the information gathered during those flights with computer modeling.
Algae at the ocean’s surface perform about half of the world’s photosynthesis, but they live for a week, so the carbon dioxide you ingest is only sequestered if the carbon from the plankton somehow transports to the ocean depths, a process known as biological carbonation. pump.
This process transfers five to twelve petagrams of carbon into the ocean depths each year. For perspective, humans emit about ten petagrams of carbon annually.
As climate change alters the Earth, it is unclear how it might affect processes such as the biological carbon pump.
“We don’t know if the biological carbon pump will absorb more or less carbon dioxide in the future,” Stockel said. “The first step in answering this question is to fully budget what is happening now. We believe our study is an important step in the process of fully understanding how the biological carbon pump operates today and, therefore, how it will change in the future.”
Michael R. Stukel et al, Carbon sequestration via multiple biological pumping pathways in an up-and-coming coastal biome, Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-37771-8
the quote: Researchers Analyze Carbon Sequestration in California’s Current Ecosystem (2023, May 18), Retrieved May 18, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-carbon-sequestration-california-current-ecosystem.html
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