Biology’s Role In ocean Carbon Storage – a gap analysis

The ocean is a large carbon reservoir which contains fifty times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Biological processes contribute to carbon storage in the ocean on climate-relevant timescales (hundreds to thousands of years). Marine phytoplankton, which are drifting microscopic plants, use sunlight and carbon dioxide in the upper ocean to form their biomass, also called organic matter. When phytoplankton die they sink into the ocean interior, moving organic carbon deeper in the water column and the deeper it goes the longer it will remain out of contact with the atmosphere. This process, often called the biological carbon pump, helps to regulate our climate and without biology in the ocean it has been shown that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could be 50% greater than what they are today.

In this project we will examine three areas that significantly affect the biological influence on global ocean carbon storage and are hindering progress on predicting ocean carbon storage in the future.


PI: Prof. Stephanie Henson


Project Dates: 
July 2022 to June 2023

NERC – Bio-Carbon Gap Analysis Call