Investigation of oceanic ‘black carbon’ uncovers mystery in global carbon cycle

In understanding the global carbon cycle, “black carbon”—decay-resistant carbon molecules altered by exposure to fire or combustion—has long been presumed to originate on land and work its way to the ocean via rivers and streams. An unexpected finding published today in Nature Communications challenges that long-held assumption and introduces a tantalizing new mystery: If oceanic black carbon is significantly different from the black carbon found in rivers, where did it come from?

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