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Carbon dioxide Sinks - Sediments

Sediments, mainly those of the oceans, provide long term sinks for carbon. The remains of oceanic plants and animals sink to the sea bed as 'marine snow', with productive areas of the world's oceans producing huge amounts of such particulate organic carbon.

In coastal areas, dissolved and particulate carbon carried in rivers can also provide a significant source of carbon to marine and estuarine sediments. Through the sedimentation of dissolved and particulate organic carbon, sediments provide a global carbon sink of about 10 million tonnes each year.

Additionally, the precipitation of calcium carbonate and its deposition in sediments leads to a further 200 million tonnes of carbon ending up in sediments annually. This deposition of carbon is made even more important, global warming-wise, by the very long periods (thousands of years) such carbon is generally taken out of the atmosphere for.

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