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The oceans' biological carbon pumps: framework for a research observational community approach

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 09:58 authored by Claustre, H, Legendre, L, Philip BoydPhilip Boyd, Levy, M
A recent paradigm explains that the downward pumping of biogenic carbon in the ocean is performed by the combined action of six different biological carbon pumps (BCPs): the biological gravitational pump, the physically driven pumps (Mixed Layer Pump, Eddy Subduction Pump and Large-scale Subduction Pump), and the animal-driven pumps (diurnal and seasonal vertical migrations of zooplankton and larger animals). Here, we propose a research community approach to implement the new paradigm through the integrated study of these BCPs in the World Ocean. The framework to investigate the BCPs combines measurements from different observational platforms, i.e., oceanographic ships, satellites, moorings, and robots (gliders, floats, and robotic surface vehicles such as wavegliders and saildrones). We describe the following aspects of the proposed research framework: variables and processes to be measured in both the euphotic and twilight zones for the different BCPs; spatial and temporal scales of occurrence of the various BCPs; selection of key regions for integrated studies of the BCPs; multi-platform observational strategies; and upscaling of results from regional observations to the global ocean using deterministic models combined with data assimilation and machine learning to make the most of the wealth of unique measurements. The proposed approach has the potential not only to bring together a large multidisciplinary community of researchers, but also to usher the community toward a new era of discoveries in ocean sciences.


Publication title

Frontiers in Marine Science



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Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Frontiers Research Foundation

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© 2021. The Authors. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License ( The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Measurement and assessment of marine water quality and condition