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The biological pump affects atmospheric CO2 levels and fuels most heterotrophic activity in the deep ocean. The efficiency of this pump depends on the rate of carbon fixation, export out of the euphotic zone and the depth of respiration. Here we study the depth dependence of respiration patterns, hence particulate carbon flux, using a compiled data set of sediment oxygen consumption rates. We show that the depth relationship can best be described by a double exponential model. For the upper part of the ocean, our resulting equation is similar to previous flux-depth relationships but predicted fluxes are significantly larger in deeper waters. This implies a more efficient biological pump. Total oceanic respiration below the shelf break (200 m) is estimated to be 827 Tmol O2 yr-1.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL03304
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004

ID: 374090