Fat copepods sequester carbon

Monday 13 Mar 23


Sigrun Jonasdottir
Senior Researcher
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 34 27


Andre Visser
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 34 25
New publication estimates that a significant amount of carbon (13 to 35 GtC) is sequestered in the deep oceans by seasonally migrating copepods. 

Every year, large numbers of copepods migrate from the surface ocean to depths of 500–2000 m to hibernate. Through this migration, they actively transport organic carbon in the form of lipids, to the deep ocean where it is used to fuel their metabolic needs. This active transport is highly efficient, as it injects carbon deep into the ocean's interior where it remains stored for 100’s of years, in a process termed the lipid pump.

Here, we focus on five representative, diapausing copepod species distributed in the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, and Southern Oceans, for which abundance, distribution and life history strategies have been documented. We use these observations together with a global transport matrix model to estimate the  total carbon sequestered and sequestration time scale for each population. Depending on diapause depth and location, sequestration time for these species range from 200 to 700 years.

Notably, these deep diapausing copepods have an enormous sequestration amplification factor: that is they sequester between 100 to 400 times more carbon in the oceans than their biomass.

Read the paper here: https://aslopubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lno.12335 

Pinti, J., Jónasdóttir, S.H., Record, N.R. and Visser, A.W., 2023. The global contribution of seasonally migrating copepods to the biological carbon pump. Limnology and Oceanography. doi: 10.1002/lno.12335

16 APRIL 2024