Educational Resources



A video by Colleen Durkin

Want to learn more about biological pump?

The biological pump, in its simplest form, is the mechanism that sequesters carbon from the atmosphere to deep sea water and sediment. It is the part of the oceanic carbon cycle responsible for the cycling of organic matter formed mainly by phytoplankton during photosynthesis, as well as the cycling of calcium carbonate formed into shells by certain organisms such as plankton and mollusks.

Once this carbon is fixed, the organisms either stay in the euphotic zone to be recycled or - once they die - begin to sink to the ocean floor. The fixed carbon that is either decomposed by bacteria on the way down or once on the sea floor then is then remineralized to be used again in primary production. The particles that escape these processes entirely are sequestered in the sediment and may remain there for millions of years. It is this sequestered carbon that is responsible for ultimately lowering atmospheric CO2.

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