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How do submesoscale physical processes influence the biological carbon pump?


Project Description

The ocean is a huge reservoir for carbon. Understanding the processes that retain it in the ocean—rather than release it to the atmosphere—is key to making accurate climate predictions. The “biological carbon pump” (BCP) is the transfer of carbon, as organic material, from the ocean surface into its interior and away from the atmosphere, through a network of physical, chemical and biological processes. An important component of the BCP is the ‘export’ of organic material out of the surface mixed layer. This sets the upper limit on how much of the carbon can be stored at depth. Historically, this was viewed as simply gravitational, with organic material sinking out of the mixed layer. We now know that small scale (<10 km –submesoscale) physical processes influence this sinking-driven export in a number of ways: direct subduction due to submesoscale vertical circulations can transport material downwards more rapidly than sinking alone; suppression of mixed layer turbulence by submesoscale re-stratification removes a hindrance to sinking; intermittent re-stratification gives organic material a chance to escape from the mixed layer before turbulence erodes the stratification. However, we lack an understanding of which process dominates and under which conditions.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibility and how to apply

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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