Concluding Remarks: Marine Photosynthesis and the Global Carbon Cycle

  • John J. Walsh
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 19)


The fate of C02 emitted from burning of fossil fuel, cement production, and deforestation since the industrial revolution is unknown and a hotly debated issue. Meteorologists, agronomists, terrestrial ecologists, limnologists, and oceanographers are at present unable to specify either the steady state annual fluxes of carbon in a global budget or the nature of transients between the major storage pools (atmosphere, land, and ocean) over the last century. At the present rate of increase in fuel consumption of 4.3% yr-1, a doubling of the C02 content of the atmosphere and a concomitant 2 to 3°C increase in the ocean’s temperature could occur by 2035. Present ocean temperatures are, in fact, only ∼2.3°C warmer than during the last Wisconsin glaciation. The role of the marine biota has been dismissed as insignificant in the global C02 cycle on the basis of nutrient limitation, reflecting the bias of oceanographers, who study only the open ocean, and of marine biologists, who study only intracellular metabolism. The C02 fixed each year during photosynthesis on the continental shelf and deposited as detrital particles on the adjacent continental slope may be a major organic sink of the global carbon cycle that is amenable to manipulation by man in amelioration of the future C02 content of the atmosphere.


Fossil Fuel Continental Shelf Open Ocean Global Carbon Cycle Detrital Particle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Walsh
    • 1
  1. 1.Oceanographic Sciences DivisionBrookhaven National LaboratoryUptonUSA

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