Major role of particle fragmentation in regulating biological sequestration of CO2 by the oceans

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Science  14 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6479, pp. 791-793
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay1790

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Breaking up is easy to do

Sinking particles transport carbon to the seafloor, where they are buried in sediments and either provide food for benthic organisms or sequester the carbon they contain. However, only ∼30% of the maximum flux reaches depths of a kilometer. This loss cannot be fully accounted for by current measurements. Briggs et al. used data collected by robotic Biogeochemical-Argo floats to quantify total mesopelagic fragmentation and found that this process accounts for roughly half of the observed flux loss (see the Perspective by Nayak and Twardowski). Fragmentation is thus perhaps the most important process controlling the remineralization of sinking organic carbon.

Science, this issue p. 791; see also p. 738

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