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

Major role of particle fragmentation in regulating biological sequestration of CO2 by the oceans
Major role of particle fragmentation in regulating biological sequestration of CO2 by the oceans
A critical driver of the ocean carbon cycle is the downward flux of sinking organic particles, which acts to lower the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. This downward flux is reduced by more than 70% in the mesopelagic zone (100 to 1000 meters of depth), but this loss cannot be fully accounted for by current measurements. For decades, it has been hypothesized that the missing loss could be explained by the fragmentation of large aggregates into small particles, although data to test this hypothesis have been lacking. In this work, using robotic observations, we quantified total mesopelagic fragmentation during 34 high-flux events across multiple ocean regions and found that fragmentation accounted for 49 ± 22% of the observed flux loss. Therefore, fragmentation may be the primary process controlling the sequestration of sinking organic carbon.
0036-8075
791-793
Briggs, Nathan
a53aa80d-785a-4ace-99d3-72fa05e94471
Dall’olmo, Giorgio
337252df-f709-4dca-a2d1-15306869aa54
Claustre, Hervé
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Briggs, Nathan
a53aa80d-785a-4ace-99d3-72fa05e94471
Dall’olmo, Giorgio
337252df-f709-4dca-a2d1-15306869aa54
Claustre, Hervé
7c1b794d-fd80-473f-bf97-cd47a19375f8

Briggs, Nathan, Dall’olmo, Giorgio and Claustre, Hervé (2020) Major role of particle fragmentation in regulating biological sequestration of CO2 by the oceans. Science, 367 (6479), 791-793. (doi:10.1126/science.aay1790).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A critical driver of the ocean carbon cycle is the downward flux of sinking organic particles, which acts to lower the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. This downward flux is reduced by more than 70% in the mesopelagic zone (100 to 1000 meters of depth), but this loss cannot be fully accounted for by current measurements. For decades, it has been hypothesized that the missing loss could be explained by the fragmentation of large aggregates into small particles, although data to test this hypothesis have been lacking. In this work, using robotic observations, we quantified total mesopelagic fragmentation during 34 high-flux events across multiple ocean regions and found that fragmentation accounted for 49 ± 22% of the observed flux loss. Therefore, fragmentation may be the primary process controlling the sequestration of sinking organic carbon.

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Accepted/In Press date: 18 December 2019
Published date: 14 February 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442009
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442009
ISSN: 0036-8075
PURE UUID: 805e6a2b-766f-47d0-9789-d7f56cd1d725

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Date deposited: 03 Jul 2020 16:38
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 04:40

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Contributors

Author: Nathan Briggs
Author: Giorgio Dall’olmo
Author: Hervé Claustre

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