The Biology’s Role In ocean Carbon Storage (BRICS) project, a key component of the Natural Research Environment Council (NERC) led BIO-Carbon programme has been successfully completed. 

The project, led by Professor Stephanie Henson from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has released its preliminary results and has further publications underway.

Research funded by the BIO-Carbon programme, including BRICS, is improving understanding of biological processes to ultimately provide robust predictions of future ocean carbon storage in a changing climate. The ocean stores huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) that would otherwise be in the atmosphere. Marine organisms play a critical role in this process, but emerging evidence indicates that climate models are not fully accounting for their impact. 

Kicking off the programme, the BRICS project conducted a knowledge gap analysis on processes that significantly affect the biological influence on global ocean carbon storage and are hindering progress on predicting ocean carbon storage in the future. This will aid in identifying the observations that are needed to improve our grasp of the processes controlling the biological carbon pump, which will in turn allow for improved model representations and predictions. 

Scientists first conducted a literature review to identify key processes that significantly affect the biological influence on global ocean carbon storage in three areas: net primary production, interior remineralisation, and the biological contributions to alkalinity.

They then led an expert assessment and ranking of those processes followed by a community survey in which respondents were asked to rank the processes based on how likely they are to determine the future biologically mediated storage of carbon in the ocean. 

Results of these activities were published in January 2023 and presented to project stakeholders at the BIO-Carbon workshop in March 2023, with two publications in production to describe the results. 

Project collaborators included: Chelsey Baker (NOC), Stuart Painter (NOC), Alessandro Tagliabue (ULiverpool), Paul Halloran (UExeter), Abigail McQuatters-Gollop (UPlymouth), Alban Planchat (ENS)

Watch Professor Stephanie Henson present at the BIO-Carbon workshop

Download the preliminary results here