Gas and climate regulation

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Marine ecosystems are an important regulator of global climate. Biogeochemical processes such as regulation of the CO2/O2 (carbon dioxide/oxygen) balance, maintenance of the ozone (O3) layer and sulphur oxides (SOx) are necessary to maintain a healthy planet and a healthy human population through the provision of breathable air. The biogeochemical cycling of 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.'

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].


  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