The Ocean Twilight Zone’s crucial carbon pump

WHOI marine chemist Ken Buesseler (left) and research specialist Steven Pike prepare to deploy a sediment trap to gain insight into the role of the upper ocean in Earth’s carbon cycle and climate system. (Photo by Jennifer Kenyon, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

When CO₂ enters the ocean, where does this heat-trapping gas go?
By Madeline Drexler

When heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere sinks into the ocean and turns to organic carbon, how much of it sinks to the deep ocean and how quickly?

Ken Buesseler, a geochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), has been working to answer these questions. He and other scientists have shown that one key to the ocean’s capacity to remove or sequester carbon is the ocean’s “twilight zone,” a mysterious stratum of ocean beneath the sunlit surface layer, which ranges from 30-200 meters (about 100-650 feet), to about 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) down.

Read more on Oceanus Magazine.