Decreasing marine biogenic calcification: A negative feedback on rising atmospheric pCO2


  • Ingrid Zondervan,

  • Richard E. Zeebe,

  • Björn Rost,

  • Ulf Riebesell


In laboratory experiments with the coccolithophore species Emiliania huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa oceanica, the ratio of particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) to particulate organic carbon (POC) production decreased with increasing CO2 concentration ([CO2]). This was due to both reduced PIC and enhanced POC production at elevated [CO2]. Carbon dioxide concentrations covered a range from a preindustrial level to a value predicted for 2100 according to a “business as usual” anthropogenic CO2 emission scenario. The laboratory results were used to employ a model in which the immediate effect of a decrease in global marine calcification relative to POC production on the potential capacity for oceanic CO2 uptake was simulated. Assuming that overall marine biogenic calcification shows a similar response as obtained for E. huxleyi or G. oceanica in the present study, the model reveals a negative feedback on increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations owing to a decrease in the PIC/POC ratio.