3. Carbon Stored in the Sea


Marine Ecosystem

1. Introduction
2. Phytoplankton
3. Carbon in the Sea
4. Carbon Cycle
5. Conditions for Life
6. Limiting Nutrients
7. Nutrient Distribution
8. Life in the Sea
9. Food Webs

Organic carbon, or carbon contained in organisms, both past and present, is stored in a variety forms in the ocean.

Form of Organic Matter

Relative Abundance (%) in the Ocean

Dissolved Organic Matter 95%
Particulate Organic Matter 5%
Phytoplankton (algae) 0.1%
Zooplankton 0.01%
Fishes 0.0001%

Amazing, only 1/10,000th of the organic carbon in the sea is locked up in fish.

Most organic matter in the ocean is dead, occurring in dissolved compounds or small particles floating in the water (we will learn more about this in expedition 16 where we join a dive in the Monterey submarine canyon)!

©Copyright 1999
March 13, 1999

Send to Don Reed

Department of Geology
San Jose State University

How is carbon cycled through the air-sea-land system on this planet?