Oceanic DOM Biogeochemistry

Fantail of the RV Atlantic Explorer

Research Location: Open ocean transects across the major ocean basins

Oceanic DOM represents one of the largest exchangeable carbon reservoirs on earth. Estimated to be 662 Pg C (Pg = 1015 g C), the global dissolved organic carbon (DOC) value is comparable to the mass of inorganic C in the atmosphere. Because of this, small perturbations in the production or sink terms of the oceanic DOC pool could strongly impact the exchange of carbon between the ocean and atmosphere. The goal of collaborative research between the Carlson Lab and Dennis Hansell's Laboratory (University of Miami) is to better resolve the distribution patterns of DOM in the various basins of the global ocean. Work conducted as part of the Joint Global Ocean Flux (JGOFS) program and most recently the Climate Variability (CLIVAR) Repeat Hydrography program has revealed striking variability of DOM in the ocean's interior.

This DOC pool contains a myriad of compounds that comprise broad pools of lability that turn over on time scales from seconds to millennia. While much of the annually produced DOM is consumed by heterotrophic microbes, approximately 20% of the global net community production escapes rapid microbial remineralization and can be vertically exported to depth by ocean mixing, thus representing an important contribution to the ocean biological carbon pump. An objective of this continuing work is to quantify the contribution of DOM export in various regions of the global ocean and to determine the fate of the DOM after export. We are interested in how microbes transform the quantity and quality of organic matter. An additional goal is to assess components of the DOM pool such as neutral aldoses and determine how they affect and are affected by microbial processes.

For a glimpse of how these oceanographic cruises are conducted, please check out this video put together by one of our students!



My research interests are shaped by an interdisciplinary blend of marine microbial ecology, microbiology and ocean biogeochemistry.


I am currently a Specialist, responsible for curating DOM and microbial datasets, overseeing day-to-day operations in the lab, and facilitating fieldwork on the variety of projects ongoing in our lab group.


My research interest lies at the interaction between marine microbial processes and ocean carbon biogeochemistry. I am specifically interested in the role of increased partial pressure of carbon dioxide on microbial processes and selection of its community structure.

I am a sea-going technician responsible for the collection and analysis of dissolved organic matter from a number of coastal and open ocean sites, including participation in the US CLIVAR Repeat Hydrography Program.