Gas exchange rates between the atmosphere and the ocean are closely dependent on the regional setting. In many regions the oceans can take up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere (the ocean acts as a “carbon sink”) whereas particularly upwelling areas appear to release CO2 to the atmosphere (the ocean here acts as a “carbon source”). In the Benguela Upwelling System, however, both CO2 emissions and uptake occur and seem to be a result of different physical and biogeochemical water mass properties.
Scientists from the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology in Bremen are investigating why and where the Benguela System acts as a source or sink for atmospheric CO2 and what are the consequences for climate change scenarios.
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GENUS (Geochemistry and Ecology of the Namibian Upwelling System) aims to clarify relationships between climate change, biogeochemical cycles, and ecosystem structure in the large marine ecosystem of the northern Benguela/Namibian Coast (sout-west Africa). The coastal upwelling system has high seasonal and interannual variability in atmospheric forcing, in properties of water masses on the shelf offshore the Republic of Namibia, and in oxygen supply and demand on the shelf. In consequence, concentrations and ratios of nutrients in upwelling water and their CO2-content have steep gradients in space and time. In the past, significant and economically severe changes in ecosystem structure have occurred which are in part attributed to changes in physical forcing, translated to the ecosystem by oxygen dynamics.
The GENUS project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is an endorsed project of the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER)