A small but significant proportion of the organic carbon formed by tiny marine plants (phytoplankton), zooplankton, and higher-level consumers does not decompose and settles on the deep ocean floor. This process, referred to as the biological pump, effectively removes carbon from the atmosphere. If the pump were turned off, there would be much higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This interaction between the ocean and atmosphere is critical, as greenhouse gases increase and the climate warms.
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