Istituto di Biofisica     
Santinelli C., Lavezzi R., Seritti A. The Role of Dissolved Organic Matter in the Global Carbon Cycle. cnr (ed.). roma: ANN, 2011.
issolved organic matter (DOM) represents the largest, the most complex and the less understood reservoir of organic carbon on the Earth. The difficulty to describe and quantify marine DOM dynamics and cycle is due to the very scarce information on its numerous sources and sinks and to its variable and unknown composition. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC), representing the 93% of DOM pool, can give quantitative information on its pool. The study of DOC data, collected since 1999 during several field studies, in different regions of the Mediterranean Sea (from the Ionian to the Balearic Sea), underlines that DOC plays a significant role in carbon cycle. DOC distribution was studied in relation to water mass characteristics and circulation. Following the core of the Levantine IntermediateWater (LIW), a gradual DOC decrease going away from its source was observed. In the deep layer of some Mediterranean areas, mainly close to deep water formation sites, DOC exhibited high concentrations (> 60 μM) whereas in other Mediterranean regions, both in the intermediate and deep waters, DOC showed low values (30-45 μM), similar to those reported for the oceanic deep waters (34-48 μM) [18]. This finding opens intriguing questions on the role of DOC in carbon export to depth, during deep waters formation and on the DOC utilization processes in different layers of the Mediterranean waters.
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