The ocean stores an enormous amount of carbon and heat, and in doing so regulates Earth’s climate. This project focuses on an important aspect of the ocean’s carbon storage referred to as the biological carbon pump (BCP). When tiny algae in the ocean grow, they take up CO2. When some of these algae, or feces from small animals that ate them, sink to the deep ocean (e.g., below 1000 m), the carbon they contain is removed from contact with the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. This can be thought of as biological processes pumping carbon into the deep ocean. Without the BCP, carbon dioxide concentrations would be nearly double the amount in the atmosphere today and Earth’s climate would be radically different. In the Northwest Atlantic and Canadian Arctic Gateway, algae accumulate in the spring. This algae growth, together with the sinking of cold, carbon-rich water, moves huge amounts of carbon from the surface to the deep ocean. Currently, we do not have measurements or models to reliably predict how these processes will change as the climate warms.
This project will bring together oceanographic researchers, ocean engineers, social scientists, government, industry, and Indigenous partners to:
- Improve our ability to monitor and measure changes in algal growth and the strength of the BCP
- Improve our understanding of how environmental conditions affect the BCP
- Develop high-resolution models to estimate algal growth and the BCP in the past and future
- Create governance, human rights law, and policy frameworks to improve decision-making from local to international levels
More information about this project can be found here.