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Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Scoping Workshop on Terrestrial and Coastal Carbon Fluxes in the Gulf of Mexico, St. Petersburg, FL, May 6-8, 2008

June 25, 2009

Despite their relatively small surface area, ocean margins may have a significant impact on global biogeochemical cycles and, potentially, the global air-sea fluxes of carbon dioxide. Margins are characterized by intense geochemical and biological processing of carbon and other elements and exchange large amounts of matter and energy with the open ocean. The area-specific rates of productivity, biogeochemical cycling, and organic/inorganic matter sequestration are high in coastal margins, with as much as half of the global integrated new production occurring over the continental shelves and slopes (Walsh, 1991; Doney and Hood, 2002; Jahnke, in press). However, the current lack of knowledge and understanding of biogeochemical processes occurring at the ocean margins has left them largely ignored in most of the previous global assessments of the oceanic carbon cycle (Doney and Hood, 2002). A major source of North American and global uncertainty is the Gulf of Mexico, a large semi-enclosed subtropical basin bordered by the United States, Mexico, and Cuba. Like many of the marginal oceans worldwide, the Gulf of Mexico remains largely unsampled and poorly characterized in terms of its air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide and other carbon fluxes.
In May 2008, the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Scoping Workshop on Terrestrial and Coastal Carbon Fluxes in the Gulf of Mexico was held in St. Petersburg, FL, to address the information gaps of carbon fluxes associated with the Gulf of Mexico and to offer recommendations to guide future research. The meeting was attended by over 90 participants from over 50 U.S. and Mexican institutions and agencies. The Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry program (OCB; sponsored this workshop with support from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the University of South Florida.
The goal of the workshop was to bring together researchers from multiple disciplines studying terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems to discuss the state of knowledge in carbon fluxes in the Gulf of Mexico, data gaps, and overarching questions in the Gulf of Mexico system. The discussions at the workshop were intended to stimulate integrated studies of marine and terrestrial biogeochemical cycles and associated ecosystems that will help to establish the role of the Gulf of Mexico in the carbon cycle and how it might evolve in the face of environmental change. The information derived from the plenary sessions, questions, and recommendations formulated by the participants will drive future research projects. Further discussion of carbon dynamics is needed to address scales of variability, the infrastructure required for study, and the modeling framework for cross-system integration.
During the workshop, participants discussed and provided a number of priorities and recommendations, which are listed on p. 2 of the report.
Participants recognized that the key to understanding the Gulf of Mexico system requires international collaboration with scientists from countries adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. Improved collaboration across existing research community boundaries will be critical and should be encouraged by the funding agencies.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2009
Title Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Scoping Workshop on Terrestrial and Coastal Carbon Fluxes in the Gulf of Mexico, St. Petersburg, FL, May 6-8, 2008
DOI 10.3133/ofr20091070
Authors L. L. Robbins, P.G. Coble, T.D. Clayton, W.J. Cai
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2009-1070
Index ID ofr20091070
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Florida Integrated Science Center