Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fjords are 'hotspots' in global carbon cycling

05.05.2015

While fjords are celebrated for their beauty, these ecosystems are also major carbon sinks that likely play an important role in the regulation of the planet's climate, new research reveals.

The finding is newly published in the international journal Nature Geoscience.

After studying sediment data from worldwide fjord systems, the researchers, who include Dr Candida Savage of New Zealand's University of Otago, estimate that about 18 million tonnes of organic carbon (OC) is buried in fjords each year, equivalent to 11% of annual marine carbon burial globally.


While fjords are celebrated for their beauty, these ecosystems are also major carbon sinks that likely play an important role in the regulation of the planet's climate, new research reveals.

Credit: Candida Savage

Dr Savage and colleagues calculated that per unit area, fjord organic carbon burial rates are twice as large as the ocean average.

"Therefore, even though they account for only 0.1% of the surface area of oceans globally, fjords act as hotspots for organic carbon burial," Dr Savage says.

Fjords are long, deep and narrow estuaries formed at high latitudes during glacial periods as advancing glaciers incise major valleys near the coast. They are found in North Western Europe, Greenland, North America, New Zealand, and Antarctica.

As deep and often low oxygen marine environments, fjords provide stable sites for carbon-rich sediments to accumulate, Dr Savage says.

Carbon burial is an important natural process that provides the largest carbon sink on the planet and influences atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels at multi-thousand-year time scales.

In the Nature Geoscience article, the researchers suggest that fjords may play an especially important role as a driver of atmospheric CO2 levels during times when ice sheets are advancing or retreating.

The Earth is currently in an interglacial period after ice sheets receded around 11,700 years ago.

During glacial retreats, fjords would trap and prevent large volumes of organic carbon flowing out to the continental shelf, where chemical processes would have caused CO2 to be produced, says Dr Savage.

Once glaciers started advancing again this material would likely then be pushed out onto the shelf and CO2 production would increase.

"In essence, fjords appear to act as a major temporary storage site for organic carbon in between glacial periods. This finding has important implications for improving our understanding of global carbon cycling and climate change," she says.

The research involved fieldwork in Fiordland and analysing data from 573 surface sediment samples and 124 sediment cores from fjords around the world.

Dr. Candida Savage | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA sees the end of ex-Tropical Cyclone 02W
21.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht New research unlocks forests' potential in climate change mitigation
21.04.2017 | Clemson University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>