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13 Use of Carbon in the Ocean You Need to Know

by Fitriani

Carbon is an element found in all parts of life. It’s in the stars, the sun, the atmosphere, the ocean and even in the human body. But we’re going to talk about how carbon plays an important role in the ocean. Here are the 13 Use of Carbon in the Ocean that will make you realise how carbon is involved in a lot of complex processes of the marine ecosystem.

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1. Component for Shells

Carbon is important for building essential parts of marine organisms. For instance, the carbon can later on be converted to calcium carbonate. It helps to build strong shells for various marine organisms. Besides building shells, the calcium carbonate can contribute to developing inner skeletons.

2. Photosynthesis by Phytoplankton

Most of the carbon in the atmosphere is dissolved in the ocean water. That’s when the function of the phytoplankton in ocean ecosystem starts to come into play. It uses that carbon to carry out photosynthesis. In turn, the photosynthesis produces sugar and oxygen. Other marine creatures in the ocean can benefit from the whole process so they can continue to live.

3. Biological Pump

Carbon is the main part of the biological pump in the ocean. As it’s so crucial to all lives in the ocean, it’s necessary for it to be cycled and spread in the water. This way, carbon won’t necessarily be concentrated in one location only. Without carbon, the biological pump will have less organic matter that can be distributed.

4. Marine Snow Formation

Despite its name, marine snow has nothing to do with snow. It’s actually a depiction of all the dead and decay materials that contain carbon as they float around in the ocean. They look small and white just like snow. The materials float from the top layer of the ocean to the bottom. Apparently, the snow can take weeks to settle and are able to grow in size. Deep feeders of the ocean look for the snow as their source of food.

5. Sediments Build Up

This next use of carbon in the ocean is related to ocean sediment. As carbon becomes a part of so many marine lives, it will surely have to end up somewhere else when those creatures die. So as they die, the parts that have carbon in them will start to decay or break down into the deep parts of the ocean. Slowly they sink and deposited with other ocean sediments that are already there. These sediments are often described as ‘carbon rich’.

Also read: Characteristics of Ocean Sediments

6. Rock Formation

Ocean sediments can accumulate for millions of years. Through all the chemical and physical processes that they have to go through, some will end up forming rocks. A good example of this is the White Cliffs of Dover. It’s located along the coast of England. It’s made up of limestone calcium carbonate sediments. When you take a closer look at the sediments, you are able to see all the tiny parts of shells that have deteriorated years ago. As time goes on, the White Cliffs of Dover will erode back to the ocean as carbon again.

7. Feeds Deep Sea Organisms

In relation to the marine snow, carbon does feed all those deep sea organisms. Since they live in the bottom part of the ocean, they rely on the marine snow to survive. They scavenge the falling carbon particles instead of revealing themselves to the surface of the ocean. This is the reason why the biological pump is needed for the sake of the marine food chain.

Read more: Deepest Sea in the World

8. Enables Studies and Research

Another use of carbon in the ocean is to enable studies and research. There have been so many studies conducted that involve measuring the amount of carbon in the ocean. Studies and research are always needed to understand how the ocean works. Carbon can lead scientists in the right direction to get the answers that they need. One study has even managed to reveal that parts of the ocean take in carbon at varying amount.

9. Makes Carbon Predictions

With the presence of carbon in the ocean, scientists can make prediction of how it’s going to affect us in the future. Emissions are increasing throughout the year. The effects are massive and vary but they can be very devastating. Carbon predictions can also help in determining the pH level of the ocean.

10. Reduces Carbon in the Atmosphere

A reason why it’s actually a good thing that carbon is in the ocean is the fact that it helps the atmosphere. Since the ocean absorbs most of it, the atmosphere can experience less negative impacts. The ocean is one the biggest carbon sink in the world so the atmosphere don’t have to hold all the carbon by itself.

11. Maintains Food Web

Carbon is a part of the huge food web within the marine ecosystem. All sorts of marine organisms depend on the food web so that they can thrive. When the food web isn’t working to its full potential, those organisms will suffer. The whole food web is affected and population might experience a decline.

See more: Importance of Marine Food Chain

12. Regulates Climate

When most of the carbon is in the ocean, it helps to regulate climate. This will slow down global warming and reduce the damage that is done to earth. When too much carbon is released into the atmosphere, the climate won’t be in its usual state. This may cause destruction to the ocean, such as the coral reefs, as many of its organisms are very vulnerable to climate.

13. Monitors Climate Changes

The use of carbon in the ocean is also to monitor climate changes. Its increasing or decreasing amount in the ocean can show a pattern of how much change the climate is experiencing. This can give insight about its continuous influence in making climate change worse over the year.

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Carbon in the ocean can be essential to marine lives as well as to humans. However, it’s important to note that the state of the ocean might not be able to take in excess carbon someday. That’s why it’s always important to take good care of the ocean in any way we can.

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