Controls over ocean mesopelagic interior carbon storage (COMICS): Fieldwork, synthesis, and modeling efforts

Richard J. Sanders, Stephanie A. Henson*, Adrian P. Martin, Tom R. Anderson, Raffaele Bernardello, Peter Enderlein, Sophie Fielding, Sarah L. C. Giering, Manuela Hartmann, Morten Iversen, Samar Khatiwala, Phyllis Lam, Richard Lampitt, Daniel J. Mayor, Mark C. Moore, Eugene Murphy, Stuart C. Painter, Alex J. Poulton, Kevin Saw, Gabriele StowasserGeraint A. Tarling, Sinhue Torres-Valdes, Mark Trimmer, George A. Wolff, Andrew Yool, Mike Zubkov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


The ocean's biological carbon pump plays a central role in regulating atmospheric CO2 levels. In particular, the depth at which sinking organic carbon is broken down and respired in the mesopelagic zone is critical, with deeper remineralization resulting in greater carbon storage. Until recently, however, a balanced budget of the supply and consumption of organic carbon in the mesopelagic had not been constructed in any region of the ocean, and the processes controlling organic carbon turnover are still poorly understood. Large-scale data syntheses suggest that a wide range of factors can influence remineralization depth including upper-ocean ecological interactions, and interior dissolved oxygen concentration and temperature. However, these analyses do not provide a mechanistic understanding of remineralization, which increases the challenge of appropriately modeling the mesopelagic carbon dynamics. In light of this, the UK Natural Environment Research Council has funded a programme with this mechanistic understanding as its aim, drawing targeted fieldwork right through to implementation of a new parameterization for mesopelagic remineralization within an IPCC class global biogeochemical model. The Controls over Ocean Mesopelagic Interior Carbon Storage (COMICS) programme will deliver new insights into the processes of carbon cycling in the mesopelagic zone and how these influence ocean carbon storage. Here we outline the programme's rationale, its goals, planned fieldwork, and modeling activities, with the aim of stimulating international collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2016


  • Biogeochemical model
  • Biological carbon pump
  • Field campaign
  • Ocean carbon cycle
  • Science plan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Aquatic Science


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