Based on a 24-month time series data from the years 1998-2000 researchers within the strategic research programme Baltic Ecosystem Adaptive Management (BEAM), have developed more robust estimates of how much of the organic carbon produced in the Baltic Sea is transported vertically every year.

Knowledge useful to further develop current models

The export of nitrogen and carbon from the mixed surface layer, the biological pump, is a key process for biogeochemical cycles in ocean. The biological carbon export was estimated as a fraction of the primary production from multi-year observations in the open Baltic Sea using several methods, including sediment traps, the thorium-234 proxy and nutrient budgets. Four methods gave similar and reasonable estimates of 0.21-0.30.This means that of the carbon fixed by phytoplankton through photosynthesis, 21-30% is exported annually from the upper part of the water column.

- These new estimates provides a robust baseline from which current Baltic models may be further developed, says Johan Gelting, a researcher at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences who has been part of the work.

More information

  • Johan Gelting, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences
  • Örjan Gustafsson, Department of Applied Environmental Science
  • Read the publication: An assessment of upper ocean carbon and nitrogen export fluxes on the boreal continental shelf: A 3-year study in the open Baltic Sea comparing sediment traps, 234Th proxy, nutrient, and oxygen budgets

BEAM Short Research Films

Carbon and nitrogen vertical export in the Baltic Sea