The physics of the biological carbon pump.

A.W. Omta, J. Bruggeman, S.A.L.M. Kooijman, H.A. Dijkstra

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The growth, sinking and remineralisation of phytoplankton constitute the soft-tissue carbon pump. Here we derive the expression for the strength of this carbon pump in terms of the nutrient utilisation and the carbon:nutrient ratio of plankton. Furthermore, we aim to determine how the physical environment affects this carbon pump. Thereto, we have used a plankton physiological model with a novel representation of the effect of temperature and light on plankton stoichiometry; it predicts that the effect of temperature on the carbon:nutrient ratio depends on the light conditions. Using this model combined with a mechanistic model for the mixed layer, we have studied the biological carbon pump at the BATS site and at various locations along a meridional transect through the Atlantic Ocean. Our results suggest that the soft-tissue carbon pump is stronger at mid-latitudes than in the (sub-)tropics and near the poles as a consequence of latitudinal variations in algal stoichiometry. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-187
    JournalJournal of sea research
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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