May 28, 2013

Fast-sinking jellyfish could boost the oceans’ uptake of carbon dioxide

Experiments show high sinking speed for dead gelatinous plankton species

How much more carbon dioxide (CO2) will the oceans be able to take up? To find out more about the efficiency of this service, scientists estimate the sinking velocities of organisms involved in the biological pump. Increasing numbers of gelatinous plankton might help in mitigating the CO2 problem. In field and laboratory experiments scientists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel has shown that dead jellyfish and pelagic tunicates sink much faster than phytoplankton and marine snow remains. Jellies are especially important because they rapidly consume plankton and particles and quickly export biomass and carbon to the ocean interior.