The persistence of the vast pool of recalcitrant dissolved organic carbon (RDOC) in the deep ocean is fundamental to both global carbon cycling and global climate. Yet, quantitative understanding of the mechanisms which produce and utilise RDOC is still in its infancy. Moving from a conceptual framework to quantitative understanding in marine carbon cycling can take the international research community several decades, precious time which is not available in this era of anthropogenic climate change. This perspective paper sets out an implementation strategy to move efficiently from conceptual hypotheses of marine carbon storage to quantification of the capacity for marine carbon storage through the microbial carbon pump (MCP), its sensitivity to global change and potential for modification. The aim is to excite and facilitate the international scientific community to hasten this process via an internationally co-ordinated multidisciplinary research initiative.
- microbial carbon pump
- microbially-mediated carbon sequestration
- recalcitrant dissolved organic carbon
- global carbon cycling and climate change