Greenhouse gas regulation

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Definition of Greenhouse gas regulation:
The balance and maintenance of the chemical composition of the atmosphere and oceans by maine living organisms[1].
This is the common definition for Greenhouse gas regulation, other definitions can be discussed in the article

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 Ocean carbon sink and Ocean acidification 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[1].

Dimethyl sulfide

Marine ecosystems mitigate greenhouse warming also by the production of dimethyl sulfide (DMS, (CH3)2S)[2]. The atmospheric oxidation of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) derived from marine phytoplankton is the most abundant source of naturally occurring sulfate aerosol particles. New (SO4)2- aerosol particles produced by oxidation of DMS activate cloud condensation nuclei over oceans owing to their high hygroscopicity (absorption of moisture). This process contributes to natural negative radiative forcing that influences the Earth’s climate. DMS-producing phytoplankton are particularly abundant in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans[3]. Factors such as decreases in sea ice extent, mixed-layer shallowing and increases in sea surface temperature may stimulate DMS production in these regions and possibly mitigate the effects of global warming. However, DMS production is the result of complex processes, such as microbially mediated conversion (demethylation and enzymatic cleavage) and consumption of newly formed dissolved DMS consumption by heterotrophs. As these processes are not yet fully understood it is not possible to provide a reliable estimate of the impact of temperature and acidification on future DMS production[4].

Related articles

Ocean carbon sink
Ocean acidification
Green Ocean modelling
Blue carbon sequestration
Algal bloom dynamics


  1. 1.0 1.1 Beaumont, N.J.; Austen, M.C.; Atkins, J.P.; Burdon, D.; Degraer, S.; Dentinho, T.P.; Derous, S.; Holm, P.; Horton, T.; van Ierland, E.; Marboe, A.H.; Starkey, D.J.; Townsend, M.; Zarzycki, T. (2007). Identification, definition and quantification of goods and services provided by marine biodiversity: implications for the ecosystem approach. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 54(3): 253-265
  2. O'Dowd, C. D. and De Leeuw, G. 2007. Marine aerosol production: A review of the current knowledge. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 365: 1753–1774
  3. Park, K-T., Yoon, Y. J., Lee, K., Tunved, P., Krejci, R., Ström, J., Jang, E., Kang, H.J., Jang, S., Park, J., Lee, B.Y., Traversi, R., Becagli, S. and Hermansen, O. 2021. Dimethyl sulfide-induced increase in cloud condensation nuclei in the Arctic atmosphere. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 35, e2021GB006969
  4. Jackson, R. and Gabric, A. 2022. Climate Change Impacts on the Marine Cycling of Biogenic Sulfur: A Review. Microorganisms 10, 1581