• UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    What a way to start off the season! @UCSBMensSoccer tops No.5 Stanford 1-0 Friday. RECAP >>> http://t.co/gPhjHwqFP0 http://t.co/z7Z90RLG5D
    1 hour 2 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    The Gauchos start the 2015 season off in style, hold No. 8 Stanford scoreless to win 1-0. @UCSBMensSoccer first win over Stanford since 2004
    2 hours 12 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Stanford trying desperately to get on the board but UCSB's backline can't be beat. Gauchos lead 1-0 with 5 minutes to go
    2 hours 19 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Ahinga Selemani beats his defender to set up Geoffrey Acheampong beautifully in the box, but the lefty's shot goes wide of the post
    2 hours 45 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Stanford with a pair of good chances with just under 30 minutes to go but UCSB still finds a way to keep them off the board and lead 1-0
    2 hours 51 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    .@UCSBMensSoccer leading No. 8 Stanford 1-0 at the half thanks to a goal by who else, Nick DePuy. Great first half for the Gauchos
    3 hours 19 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    GOAL! Seo-In Kim sends a cross far post and Nick DePuy heads it in to put the Gauchos up 1-0 with 3 minutes left in the half
    3 hours 27 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Women's Soccer: San Jose State 1, UC Santa Barbara 1 (Final - 2OT) UCSB, San Jose State Battle to 1-1 Tie http://t.co/KolrGPE4AY
    3 hours 40 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Big save by Vom Steeg to keep the game scoreless! 25 min left in 1st half @UCSBMensSoccer
    3 hours 51 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Stanford has the advantage in the run of play through 10 minutes but it's still 0-0. @UCSBMensSoccer
    4 hours 37 sec ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    WVB: UCSB Opens Season with Back-to-Back Sweeps! #GoGauchos http://t.co/yye1PtugDW
    4 hours 28 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Heres UCSB's starting lineup against Stanford: Vom Steeg, Quezada, Strong, Backus, Jome, Espana, Feucht, Murphy, Acheampong, Selemani, DePuy
    4 hours 28 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Don't miss @UCSBMensSoccer season opener against Stanford. Kickoff in 10 minutes!
    4 hours 36 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    @UCSBWomenSoccer ties San Jose St. 1-1 in home season opener behind early goal by Mallory Hromatko
    4 hours 46 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    RT @UCSB_Volleyball: Make that two sweeps on opening day! We topped UIW 3-0 and are now 2-0!… https://t.co/iybbM7N1tn
    5 hours 19 min ago

Ocean Food Web Key in Global Carbon Cycle

A new study by a UCSB oceanographer uses satellite observations to assess the role of the biological pump in global ocean carbon export
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 09:30
Santa Barbara, CA

Nothing dies of old age in the ocean. Everything gets eaten and all that remains of anything is waste. But that waste is pure gold to oceanographer David Siegel, director of the Earth Research Institute at UC Santa Barbara.

In a study of the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle, Siegel and his colleagues used those nuggets to their advantage. They incorporated the lifecycle of phytoplankton and zooplankton — small, often microscopic animals at the bottom of the food chain — into a novel mechanistic model for assessing the global ocean carbon export. Their findings appear online in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

The researchers used satellite observations including determinations of net primary production (NPP) — the net production of organic matter from aqueous carbon dioxide (CO2) by phytoplankton — to drive their food-web-based model. The scientists focused on the ocean’s biological pump, which exports organic carbon from the euphotic zone — the well-lit, upper ocean — through sinking particulate matter, largely from zooplankton feces and aggregates of algae. Once these leave the euphotic zone, sinking into the ocean depths, the carbon can be sequestered for a season or for centuries.

“What we’ve done here is create the first step toward monitoring the strength and efficiency of the biological pump using satellite observations,” said Siegel, who is also a professor of marine science in UCSB’s Department of Geography. “The approach is unique in that previous ways have been empirical without considering the dynamics of the ocean food web.” The space/time patterns created by those empirical approaches are inconsistent with how oceanographers think the oceans should work, he noted.

Carbon is present in the atmosphere and is stored in soils, oceans and the Earth’s crust. Any movement of carbon between — or in the case of the ocean, within — these reservoirs is called a flux. According to the researchers, oceans are a central component in the global carbon cycle through their storage, transport and transformations of carbon constituents.

“Quantifying this carbon flux is critical for predicting the atmosphere’s response to changing climates,” Siegel said. “By analyzing the scattering signals that we got from satellite measurements of the ocean’s color, we were able to develop techniques to calculate how much of the biomass occurs in very large or very small particles.”

Their results predict a mean global carbon export flux of 6 petagrams (Pg) per year. Also known as a gigaton, a petagram is equal to one quadrillion (1015) grams. This is a huge amount, roughly equivalent to the annual global emissions of fossil fuel. At present, fossil fuel combustion represents a flux to the atmosphere of approximately 9 Pg per year.

“It matters how big and small the plankton are, and it matters what the energy flows are in the food web,” Siegel said. “This is so simple. It’s really who eats whom but also having an idea of the biomasses and productivity of each. So we worked out these advanced ways of determining NPP, phytoplankton biomass and the size structure to formulate mass budgets, all derived from satellite data.”

The researchers are taking their model one step further by planning a major field program designed to better understand the states in which the biological pump operates. “Understanding the biological pump is critical,” Siegel concluded. “We need to understand where carbon goes, how much of it goes into the organic matter, how that affects the air-sea exchanges of CO2 and what happens to fossil fuel we have emitted from our tailpipes.”

This research was funded by the NASA Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry program. 

Contact Info: 

Julie Cohen
julie.cohen@ucsb.edu
(805) 893-7220

Topics: 

After reading this article I feel