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Decadal climate change drives jellyfish-like creature’s carbon cycle in the Mediterranean Sea

January 15, 2014

Is the fate of gelatinous zooplankton biomass and similar structures’ carbon export shaped by climate? And how important is this process in the oceans and for CO2 uptake? A unique dataset compiled in the Mediterranean Sea during 11 years shows that jelly-carbon sinks along entire continental margins. Increasing numbers of gelatinous plankton might regionally hep mitigating the CO2 problem by sinking more carbon out of the surface waters, but how this process relates to climate was unknown. In field surveys, Dr. Mario Lebrato from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (San Diego) and colleagues from GEOMAR (Germany), CSIC (Spain) and the EC Joint Research Center (Italy) showed that dead pelagic tunicates (jelly-carbon) sink fast and reach shelves and slopes in the whole western Mediterranean Sea echoing the climate variability. Jellies are especially important because they rapidly consume plankton and particles, and quickly export biomass and carbon to the ocean interior.

Decadal climate change drives jellyfish-like creature’s carbon cycle in the Mediterranean Sea, Environmental Research Web, January 6 2014. Article.

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