The Role of Dissolved Organic Matter for the Organic Carbon Cycle in the Arctic Ocean

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Abstract

Our knowledge of the Arctic Ocean as an ecosystem has increased dramatically over the last decade, particularly due to easier access to Russian literature and due to numerous icebreaking research efforts and international cooperations. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) has been recognized as an important component of the oceanic carbon cycle with a pool size of roughly 650–700 ×1015 g C (Hansell and Carlson 2001, Hedges 2002) which matches the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. Even small changes in the oceanic dissolved organic carbon (DOC) pool could lead to significant perturbations of the global carbon cycle on time scales of 1000 to 10000 years (Hedges 1992, Hedges 2002). The biological oceanography of the Arctic Ocean is poorly understood and only very recently (the last 5 years) have we learned how the numerous unique features of the Arctic Ocean influence biological and biogeochemical processes like the DOM cycle (Wheeler et al. 1997).