Phytoplankton do not produce carbon‐rich organic matter in high CO2 oceans

The ocean is a substantial sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) released as a result of human activities. Over the coming decades the dissolved inorganic C concentration in the surface ocean is predicted to increase, which is expected to have a direct influence on the efficiency of C utilization (consumption and production) by phytoplankton during photosynthesis. Here, we evaluated the generality of C‐rich organic matter production by examining the elemental C:N ratio of organic matter produced under conditions of varying pCO2. The data used in this analysis were obtained from a series of pelagic in situ pCO2 perturbation studies that were performed in the diverse ocean regions and involved natural phytoplankton assemblages. The C:N ratio of the resulting particulate and dissolved organic matter did not differ across the range of pCO2 conditions tested. In particular, the ratio for particulate organic C and N was found to be 6.58 ± 0.05, close to the theoretical value of 6.6.

Kim J.-M., Lee K., Suh Y.-S. & Han I.-S., in press. Phytoplankton do not produce carbon‐rich organic matter in high CO2 oceans. Geophysical Research Letters. Article.

 

 

 

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