News FocusMarine Biogeochemistry

The Invisible Hand Behind A Vast Carbon Reservoir

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Science  18 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5985, pp. 1476-1477
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5985.1476

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For simple sea creatures, dissolved organic carbon is the staff of life. Much of it, however, is as unpalatable as chaff and accumulates in the water column. Scientists are unraveling how organic matter in the marine food chain is converted into forms that less readily relinquish carbon in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). New findings are unmasking the invisible processes that suspend immense amounts of carbon just below the ocean waves. Researchers are exploring the tantalizing prospect of sequestering CO2 in this reservoir. It's too early to say whether the vast pool will respond to geoengineering, however.