Deep-ocean gradients in the concentration of dissolved organic carbon

Dennis A Hansell, Craig A. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

244 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is as much carbon in dissolved organic material in the oceans as there is CO2 in the atmosphere, but the role of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the global carbon cycle is poorly understood. DOC in the deep ocean has long been considered to be uniformly distributed and hence largely refractory to biological decay. But the turnover of DOC, and therefore its contribution to the carbon cycle, has been evident from radiocarbon dating studies. Here we report the results of a global survey of deep-ocean DOC concentrations, including the region of deep-water formation in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Circumpolar Current of the Southern Ocean, and the Indian and Pacific oceans. DOC concentrations decreased by 14 micromolar from the northern North Atlantic Ocean to the northern North Pacific Ocean, representing a 29% reduction in concentration. We evaluate the spatial patterns in terms of source/sink processes. Inputs of DOC to the deep ocean are identifiable in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, but the mechanisms have not been identified with certainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-266
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume395
Issue number6699
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 17 1998
Externally publishedYes

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dissolved organic carbon
ocean
carbon cycle
deep water formation
circumpolar current
radiocarbon dating
Southern Hemisphere
turnover
atmosphere
carbon
North Atlantic Ocean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Deep-ocean gradients in the concentration of dissolved organic carbon. / Hansell, Dennis A; Carlson, Craig A.

In: Nature, Vol. 395, No. 6699, 17.09.1998, p. 263-266.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hansell, Dennis A ; Carlson, Craig A. / Deep-ocean gradients in the concentration of dissolved organic carbon. In: Nature. 1998 ; Vol. 395, No. 6699. pp. 263-266.
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