The ocean twilight zone’s role in climate change
Buesseler, Ken O.
Levin, David S.
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KeywordClimate; Mesopelagic; Twilight Zone; Fisheries; Carbon Dioxide Removal; Ocean; Biological Carbon Pump; Solubility Pump; Carbon; Marine Snow
The ocean twilight zone (more formally known as the mesopelagic zone) plays a fundamental role in global climate. It is the mid-ocean region roughly 100 to 1000 meters below the surface, encompassing a half-mile deep belt of water that spans more than two-thirds of our planet. The top of the ocean twilight zone only receives 1% of incident sunlight and the bottom level is void of sunlight. Life in the ocean twilight zone helps to transport billions of metric tons (gigatonnes) of carbon annually from the upper ocean into the deep sea, due in part to processes known as the biological carbon pump. Once carbon moves below roughly 1000 meters depth in the ocean, it can remain out of the atmosphere for centuries to millennia. Without the benefits of the biological carbon pump, the atmospheric CO 2 concentration would increase by approximately 200 ppm 1 which would significantly amplify the negative effects of climate change that the world is currently trying to curtail and reverse. Unfortunately, existing scientific knowledge about this vast zone of the ocean, such as how chemical elements flow through its living systems and the physical environment, is extremely limited, jeopardizing the efforts to improve climate predictions and to inform fisheries management and ocean policy development.
Buesseler, K., Jin, D., Kourantidou, M., Levin, D., Ramakrishna, K., Renaud, P., Ausubel, J., Baltes, K., Gjerde, K., Holland, M., Kostel, K., LaCapra, V., Martin, A., Sosik, H., Thorrold, S., Tierney, T., Joyce, K., Renier, N., Taylor, E. (2022). The Ocean Twilight Zone’s Role in Climate Change. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 32 pp.
Suggested CitationOther: Buesseler, Ken O., Jin, Di, Kourantidou, Melina, Levin, David S., Ramakrishna, Kilaparti, Renaud, Philip, "The ocean twilight zone’s role in climate change", 2022-02, https://hdl.handle.net/1912/28074
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