Our students hard at work about the R/V Sharp filtering water to collect organic carbon samples show their sense of humor and spell out TOC (total organic carbon) an important part of the marine carbon cycle.
Carbon is the fundamental element of life. The carbon cycle is the interlinked pathways by which carbon transitions between being an inorganic component of the environment and the fundamental structural component of all things living. Through biologic uptake via photosynthesis carbon is transformed from carbon dioxide to organic carbon compounds (better known as living organisms) and then through respiration, death, and fossil fuel burning it is returned back to carbon dioxide. These processes are at the heart of both the carbon cycle and the anthropogenic alterations of the cycle. Less well known is the importance of the biological uptake of carbon dioxide by marine organisms to form calcium carbonate shells that are an important arm of both the carbon cycle and balancing ocean acidification. Understanding how carbon is passed from one organism to another and from the biosphere to the geosphere is a research focus of a number of Rutgers Marine and Coastal Science faculty.