oceanography - Syllabus Week 6(TakeNote Week 5 Primary...

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Syllabus Week 6 (TakeNote Week 5) Primary Production (Friday, September 28) 1) Basic Process A) Primary production refers to the formation of organic material (glucose and other sugars) through the process of photosynthesis and the subsequent synthesis of complex organic molecules such as DNA and protein using these simple sugars. B) Photosynthesis is the chemical reaction that uses water, CO 2 , and energy from the sun to form glucose molecules and oxygen. Photosynthesis converts carbon from an inorganic gas to a particulate organic form that can settle into the deep ocean. As larger animals consume photosynthetic organisms, the glucose molecules and the energy stored in them transfer up the food chain. 1) The photosynthetic reaction is given by: 6CO 2 + 6H 2 O + light energy = C 6 H 12 O 6 + 6O 2 C) While photosynthesis requires only water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight, the entire primary production process depends also on the uptake of plant nutrients for the construction of complex molecules needed to form new cellular components. From an oceanography perspective, the most important of these nutrients are those that could be potentially limited in the ocean, such as silica, phosphorous, iron, and nitrogen. D) The reactions needed to create new complex molecules consume oxygen and generate carbon dioxide. The generation of carbon dioxide is called respiration. This is exactly the opposite process of photosynthesis. 2) Why Study Primary Production? A) Primary production forms the base of all marine food webs so understanding variability of primary production in the ocean enables us to predict the distribution of other organisms. In areas of high productivity, we expect numerous organisms from varying positions on the food chain. In areas of low productivity, we expect to see very few organisms because there is not enough food to support many organisms. B) Global primary productivity is an important component of the global carbon cycle and can aid our understanding and prediction of global climate. Primary production in the ocean results in the uptake of large quantities of CO 2 gas, while respiration of marine organisms results in the release of large quantities of CO 2 gas. The amount of CO 2 taken up by the ocean is slightly larger than the amount released because organic carbon in the form of animal shells and detritus will sometimes sink to the ocean, where it is removed from the carbon cycle. Thus, the bottom of the ocean is an important sink for carbon. 3) Net Primary Productivity
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A) The difference between the amount of CO 2 consumed by photosynthesis and the amount released by respiration is called the net primary productivity. If net primary productivity is negative, it means that plants are exposed to little or no light and CO 2 is being taken up slower than it is respired. 4) Phytoplankton
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This note was uploaded on 11/26/2007 for the course EAS 1540 taught by Professor Monger during the Fall '07 term at Cornell.

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oceanography - Syllabus Week 6(TakeNote Week 5 Primary...

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