Ocean Carbonate Chemistry: The Aquatic Chemistry Fundamentals

Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science Series book series (NAIV, volume 40)


Some of the main questions we consider when studying the global carbon cycle are the exchange of CO2 between the ocean and atmosphere and internal redistribution of carbon species within the ocean due to uptake and remineralization of organic matter and calcium carbonate. A schematic representation of these processes is shown in Figure 1. When CO2 evades from or invades to the ocean it changes the equilibrium that exists between the species of dissolved inorganic carbon (H2CO3, HCO3 - and CO3 2) already there. Some of the CO2 is taken75 up by phytoplankton to make algal protoplasm.lasm. Some CO3 2 reacts with Ca2+ and is taken up in the form of calcium carbonate shells. Both organic matter and CaCO3 are contained in the particles that sink from the surface ocean into the deep sea. The biologically driven fluxes are called the “Biological Pump”. These particles are remineralized through respiration of the organic carbon and solubilization of the CaCO3. The reactions control the distribution of carbonate species and pH in the deep sea. The pH of seawater is a master variable that reflects the net effect of all acid and base producing aquatic geochemical processes. Some of these particles reach the sediments where their input drives an extensive set of reactions termed sedimentary diagenesis. All of these processes involve various species of the ocean dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) system, thus the fundamental aquatic chemistry aspects of these equilibrium reactions of the carbonate system need to be understood.


Dissolve Inorganic Carbon Carbonic Acid Total Alkalinity Carbonate Species Total Inorganic Carbon 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of OceanographyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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