How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Carbon Sequestration in Marine Communities
Cebrian, J.  2002.  Variability and control of carbon consumption, export, and accumulation in marine communities.  Limnology and Oceanography 47: 11-22.

What was done
"Using an extensive compilation of published reports," the author reviews what is known about the relative abilities of different marine communities to fix, export and store carbon.

What was learned
Marshes, together with seagrass beds and mangroves, were determined to be larger organic carbon traps than other marine communities, "because they accumulate a greater magnitude of refractory detritus."  This result is probably due, says the author, "to the sediment anaerobic conditions and high values of belowground production typical of marshes."

At the other end of the spectrum are oceanic phytoplanktonic communities, which trap but little carbon on a per-unit-area basis.  When the total area covered by each type of marine community is considered, however, "oceanic phytoplankton stand out as the greatest trap of organic carbon in the global marine budget because they cover the largest area."

What it means
When it comes to sequestering carbon, mankind's greatest opportunity to get the most value out of marine communities resides in the preservation and proper management of coastal marshes.  This goal, therefore, should be a high priority on the list of everyone concerned about the environment, irrespective of whatever their feelings might be about which side of the CO2-climate debate is correct.

Reviewed 12 June 2002