Dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the ocean is one of the largest carbon reservoirs on Earth, storing about 700 billion tons of carbon. Due to its size, this reservoir plays an essential role in the global carbon cycle and, hence, for our climate. In contrast to the other large organic carbon reservoirs on Earth’s surface (soils, perma-frost and vegetation), it is unknown what controls the size of the DOM pool and how dynamic it is. Even small changes could have a significant impact on the global climate. The overall goal of our research is to identify the mechanisms controlling the turnover of DOM and to assess the vulnerability of this carbon reservoir. Over the past decade, a wealth of highly diverse molecular data regarding DOM and marine microbes, that consume and produce DOM, have been collected. To gain deeper insights into the global carbon cycle it is necessary to combine these very complex, heterogeneous data in the oceanographic context. The data must be cross-linked by extensively using digital tools like semantic data management and machine learning techniques. Our goal is to develop the digital infrastructure to provide analysis tools to integrate geochemical, microbial and environmental data for improving our understanding of biogeochemical cycles on the global scale. This effort will help us to predict changes of chemical and ecological turnover rates induced by increasing global CO2 levels.

Current project:

Digitalization in the Natural Sciences

Project Title:

Global Carbon Cycling and Complex Molecular Patterns in Aquatic Systems: Integrated Analyses Powered by Semantic Data Management

List of people involved:

Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), University of Oldenburg:

Prof. Dr. Thorsten Dittmar
Prof. Dr. Sinikka T. Lennartz
Dr. Julian Merder
Prof. Dr. Ulrike Feudel
PD Dr. Jan Freund
Prof. Dr. Bernd Blasius
Dr. Sahithya Phani Babu Vemulapalli
Dr. Nico Mitschke

Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPI-DS), Göttingen:

apl. Prof. Dr. Ulrich Parlitz
Prof. Dr. Stefan Luther
Dr. Alexander Schlemmer


Ministry for Science and Culture (MWK), State of Lower Saxony, Volkswagen Foundation

(Changed: 01 Jun 2022)