PerspectiveOceanography

“Breaking” news for the ocean's carbon budget

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  14 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6479, pp. 738-739
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba7109

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

Oceans play a critical role in Earth's carbon cycle. Quantifying essential processes in carbon cycling and extending these to future predictions remain great scientific challenges. Nearly 30% of anthropogenic carbon is absorbed from the atmosphere into the ocean, where sempiternal, ubiquitous populations of microscopic particles transport carbon into the isolated deep sea (1). This complex pathway is driven by various biophysical and chemical interactions, including phytoplankton productivity, zooplankton grazing, oceanic mixing and turbulence, advection, and the sinking of particles and aggregates (2) (see the figure). On page 791 of this issue, Briggs et al. (3) quantitatively describe the key role of particle fragmentation in carbon storage by the ocean, potentially accounting for half of the particle flux that fails to sink into the deep ocean.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science