…and where it goes…how it got there..its trials and tribulations.
This week in carbon sequestration theater we explore Little Petey Carbon and (sing out loud) Ollll’ Mannnn Rrrriverrrr.
Rivers are major transporters of material to the oceans and on into the deep. Below are estimates from Schlunz and Schneider’s (2000) of just organic carbon flux (as opposed to total material). The numbers are fluxes in 10^12 g or 1,000,000 tons per year. That’s lot of carbon!
Certain events like typhoons can amplify the amount of sediment that is carried out to sea. New research appearing in Geology suggest that 61 million tons of sediment was carried out to sea by the Choshui River during Typhoon Mindulle, some 500,000 tons consisted of particles of carbon created during chemical weathering. For scale 500,000 tons is the weight of about 20 RMS Titanics. O’ yeah, I forgot to mention this all occurred over just 96 hours.
Another recent study occurring in PNAS, documents another method by which rivers aid in ocean carbon sequestration. In this first scenario carbon is actively transported to the seafloor. In the second, nutrients transported by river out sea enhance phytoplankton production. The recent study documents that the Amazon River plume supports N2 fixation far from the mouth, extending past even the continental shelf.
Goldsmith, S.T., Carey, A.E., Lyons, W.B., Kao, S., Lee, T., Chen, J. (2008). Extreme storm events, landscape denudation, and carbon sequestration: Typhoon Mindulle, Choshui River, Taiwan. Geology, 36(6), 483. DOI: 10.1130/G24624A.1
Subramaniam, A., Yager, P.L., Carpenter, E.J., Mahaffey, C., Bjorkman, K., Cooley, S., Kustka, A.B., Montoya, J.P., Sanudo-Wilhelmy, S.A., Shipe, R., Capone, D.G. (2008). From the Cover: Amazon River enhances diazotrophy and carbon sequestration in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(30), 10460-10465. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0710279105