> Oceanography > Issues > Archive > Volume 22, Number 4

2009, Oceanography 22(4):202–211, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.109

Dissolved Organic Matter in the Ocean: A Controversy Stimulates New Insights

Authors | Abstract | Full Article | Figures | Citation


Dennis A. Hansell | Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA

Craig A. Carlson | Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Daniel J. Repeta | Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, USA

Reiner Schlitzer | Alfred Wegener Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany



Containing as much carbon as the atmosphere, marine dissolved organic matter is one of Earth's major carbon reservoirs. With invigoration of scientific inquiries into the global carbon cycle, our ignorance of its role in ocean biogeochemistry became untenable. Rapid mobilization of relevant research two decades ago required the community to overcome early false leads, but subsequent progress in examining the global dynamics of this material has been steady. Continuous improvements in analytical skill coupled with global ocean hydrographic survey opportunities resulted in the generation of thousands of measurements throughout the major ocean basins. Here, observations and model results provide new insights into the large-scale variability of dissolved organic carbon, its contribution to the biological pump, and its deep ocean sinks.


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Hansell, D.A., C.A. Carlson, D.J. Repeta, and R. Schlitzer. 2009. Dissolved organic matter in the ocean: A controversy stimulates new insights. Oceanography 22(4):202–211, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.109.