Vast Carbon Residue of Marine Life Studied

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 19, 2016 06:25 AM EDT

For centuries carbon has slowly deposited over the Earth. It is one of the most abundant elements on the Earth and even our solar system. Normally carbon can either be made inorganically or organically. The Earth's oceans have much carbon deposit, most of them untapped since they are inaccessible. Scientists are wondering what is the source for the oceans' vast amount of carbon.

According to Phys Org the Earth's oceans hold as much as 700 billion tons of carbon deposit. Some of the carbon deposits have been made organically. Plant and animal life in the sea die off, and their remains fall to the sea floor. While some have been used to sustain life, many have simply been left on the floor, where slowly over the years they have been transformed into carbon deposits.

Researchers from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have studied carbon coming from the seas. They used data gathered over 15 years from several international scientific cruises on the Atlantic Ocean. From this data they have mapped out the distribution of carbon deposits in the Atlantic.

Carbon has been used to sustain life, as dissolved organic carbon is one of the primary food source for marine life, as the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science's site reports. Phytoplankton produce this carbon during photosynthesis. Microbial marine life then feed on this, and thus starting the marine food chain. Unconsumed carbon fall to the ocean floor.

"In our work, we found that the production of dissolved organic carbon depends on the quantity of nutrients that reach the euphotic zone from deeper layers," commented Cristina Romera-Castillo, lead author of the study and a former postdoctoral researcher at the UM Rosenstiel School.

Predicting the amount of dissolved organic carbon produced could be measured by the amount of nutrients found on the sunlit zone. This is important since it affects the cycle of carbon on the Earth. How much carbon can have an impact on the world's climate.

"We need to understand the carbon cycle on Earth especially as we add more from the burning of fossil fuels," remarked Dennis Hansell, co-author of the study and Professor of Ocean Sciences at the UM Rosenstiel School.

Also of much importance is scientists discovering how to convert CO2 into useful ethanol.

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