Friday January 6, 2023

EurekAlert! —

An international team of scientists painstakingly gathered data from more than 50 years of seagoing scientific drilling missions to conduct a first-of-its-kind study of organic carbon that falls to the bottom of the ocean and gets drawn deep inside the planet.

Their study, published this week in Nature, suggests climate warming could reduce organic carbon burial and increase the amount of carbon that’s returned to the atmosphere, because warmer ocean temperatures could increase the metabolic rates of bacteria.

Researchers from Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Leeds and the University of Bremen analyzed data from drilled cores of muddy seafloor sediments that were gathered during 81 of the more than 1,500 shipboard expeditions mounted by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and its predecessors. Their study provides the most detailed accounting to date of organic carbon burial over the past 30 million years, and it suggests scientists have much to learn about the dynamics of Earth’s long-term carbon cycle.

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