Greenhouse gas regulation
The balance and maintenance of the chemical composition of the atmosphere and oceans by maine living organisms.
Marine ecosystems are an important regulator of the global CO2/O2 (carbon dioxide/oxygen) balance. The biogeochemical cycling of these gases is greatly controlled by the living biota existing on earth of which the marine realm is extremely important. For example, marine plants and animals aid in controlling carbon dioxide in the ocean, as phytoplankton remove it from the surface waters while releasing oxygen. When phytoplankton die, they sink and add to the supersaturation of carbon dioxide in the deep sea. This results in a vertical gradient of CO2 in the ocean, which has been termed the 'Biological Pump.' See Algal bloom dynamics for further details.
Greenhouse gas regulation is vital in regulating the climate of our planet. The seabed has a significant role in this process through its ability to sequester CO2. Gases such as CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat from the sun, heating the planet. This process occurs naturally and has kept the Earth's temperature about 60 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it would otherwise be. Excessive amounts of gases such as atmospheric CO2, however, can have a significant contribution to global warming and is thus a factor in regulating climate.
Marine ecosystems mitigate greenhouse warming also by the production of dimethyl sulfide (DMS, (CH3)2S). New (SO4)2- aerosol particles produced by oxidation of DMS activate cloud condensation nuclei over oceans. This process contributes to natural negative radiative forcing that influences the Earth’s climate. A precise estimate of this influence cannot yet be given.
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