Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life

19.10.2016

Study advances understanding of massive ocean carbon reservoir and its impact to marine food web

The oceans hold a vast reservoir--700 billion tons--of carbon, dissolved in seawater as organic matter, often surviving for thousands of years after being produced by ocean life. Yet, little is known about how it is produced, or how it's being impacted by the many changes happening in the ocean.


Left: Sampling locations showing the dissolved organic carbon concentration measured at the surface (dots) over Chlorophyll recorded from satellite (background) Right: Dissolved organic carbon calculated (background) compared with the measured dissolved organic carbon (dots)

Image: Cristina Romera-Castillo, et.al. Satellite

Image: SeaWiFS Project NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Think of dissolved organic carbon, or DOC, in the ocean as tree leaves and other dead organic matter falling to the forest ground--a portion of this natural carbon sustains life while the remainder remains hidden in the soils, being sequestered for many years. As is true in the forests, this vital, residual carbon reservoir is necessary to sustain life in the ocean, and to sequester vast amounts of carbon in its great depths.

To better understand this important pool of ocean carbon, researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science used data collected over the past 15 years on several international scientific cruises to map the distribution of this material in the Atlantic Ocean. From the analysis, they found that this major basin contributes one third of the global ocean net production of dissolved organic carbon.

"Carbon is involved in all aspects of our life," said Dennis Hansell, UM Rosenstiel School professor of ocean sciences and coauthor of the study. "We need to understand the carbon cycle on Earth especially as we add more from the burning of fossil fuels."

Dissolved organic carbon is the primary food source at the base of the marine food chain. It is produced by phytoplankton during photosynthesis, and it is mostly consumed by microbial life. The remainder that is not consumed by microbes accumulates in the ocean.

The researchers discovered that the production of dissolved organic carbon at the ocean's surface could be accurately predicted by measuring the amount of nutrients arriving into the euphotic, or sunlit, zone. The nutrients arrive there mostly by winter mixing and upwelling, and in turn support the growth of ocean plant life. From the arrival of nutrients to the surface ocean, they estimated the resulting plant growth and the production of residue, the DOC, from that growth. From those estimates, they built a map of DOC at the surface of the entire Atlantic Ocean.

"In our work, we found that the production of dissolved organic carbon depends on the quantity of nutrients that reach the euphotic zone from deeper layers," said Cristina Romera-Castillo, a former postdoctoral researcher at the UM Rosenstiel School and lead author of the study. "In future scenarios, how climate change will affect the nutrient arrival to the surface ocean will determine the inventory of dissolved organic carbon in the ocean."

This inventory in turn affects the cycling of carbon on Earth, which has important roles in climate.

###

The paper, titled "New nutrients exert fundamental control on dissolved organic carbon accumulation in the surface Atlantic Ocean," was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study's authors include: Cristina Romera-Castillo, who conducted the work while a postdoctoral researcher at the UM Rosenstiel School, UM Rosenstiel School Professor of Ocean Sciences Dennis Hansell, and Robert T. Letscher from the University of California Irvine.

The study was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, Grant# OCE1436748 and the U.S. Department of Energy's Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing program, Grant# DE-SC0012550

About the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School

The University of Miami is one of the largest private research institutions in the southeastern United States. The University's mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940's, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, visit: http://www.rsmas.miami.edu.

Diana Udel | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Atlantic Ocean Atmospheric nutrients ocean life primary food source

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Novel method for investigating pore geometry in rocks
18.06.2018 | Kyushu University, I2CNER

nachricht Decades of satellite monitoring reveal Antarctic ice loss
14.06.2018 | University of Maryland

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries

19.06.2018 | Life Sciences

New material for splitting water

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>