BIO-Carbon Research Programme – Research Biological Influence on Future Ocean Storage of Carbon

Closing Date: 23/03/2022

Grant funding to increase knowledge of the role of marine life in ocean carbon storage through modelling, analyses of existing data or laboratory work focused on specific gaps in understanding.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has launched the BIO-Carbon Research Programme – Research Biological Influence on Future Ocean Storage of Carbon funding call. The aim is to provide new understanding of the role of marine life in ocean carbon storage to help inform future predictions of such carbon storage.

Huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) are stored in the ocean, which would otherwise be in the atmosphere. The ocean takes up 20% to 30% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, holding 50 times the total amount of carbon present in the atmosphere. However, the ocean’s ability to store carbon is sensitive to climate change. Marine organisms play a critical role in the carbon storage process, but emerging evidence indicates that climate models are not fully accounting for their impact. This undermines carbon policies, such as national net zero targets.

The biological influence on future ocean storage of carbon (BIO-Carbon) research programme is designed to produce a new understanding of biological processes. It will provide robust predictions of future ocean carbon storage in a changing climate.

The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), which coordinates climate research internationally and is sponsored by UN organisations, has expressed its greatest priorities as three questions. This programme will address two of those questions:

  • What biological and abiological processes drive and control ocean carbon storage?
  • Can and will climate-carbon feedbacks amplify climate changes over the twenty-first century?

There are three interlinked programme challenges, which will address three aspects of biological influence:

  • Challenge one: How does marine life affect the potential for seawater to absorb CO2, and how will this change?
  • Challenge two: How will the rate at which marine life converts dissolved CO2 into organic carbon change?
  • Challenge three: How will climate change-induced shifts in respiration by the marine ecosystem affect the future ocean storage of carbon?

The funding available will enable applicants to address any of the programme’s three challenges, or a combination of them. This can be done through new modelling, analyses of existing data or laboratory work focused on specific gaps in the understanding of globally significant ocean carbon storage processes. By encapsulating new knowledge in a robust modelling framework, it will examine the resulting feedback on future predictions for how global ocean carbon storage may change.

BIO-Carbon seeks to highlight the importance of international waters to discussions on carbon policy. All BIO-Carbon projects are therefore required to focus research on processes that are globally relevant, in waters: within the open ocean water column that regulate carbon storage; beyond the continental shelf break; where the seafloor is typically at a depth greater than 1,000m.

Funding body Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Maximum value £250,000
Reference ID S23513
Category Engineering and Physical Sciences
Biotechnology and Biology
Natural Environment
Fund or call Fund