BECS WG – Benthic Ecosystem and Carbon Synthesis

Benthic Ecosystem and Carbon Synthesis (BECS) Working Group

The BECS working group is aimed at understanding the carbon cycle and ecosystems within the land-to-ocean aquatic continuum by improving our understanding of related benthic processes and their representation in ocean and climate models. Benthic sediments (i.e. the seafloor) serve as the only long-term (century-to-millennial) sink of ocean carbon. Despite their critical role in the global carbon cycle, our understanding of coastal and global carbon dynamics is hindered by both a paucity of data and simplistic representations of seafloor biogeochemistry and ecosystems in models. This represents a key deficiency in future projections of the global carbon cycle and our quantification of the role of the benthos as a long-term carbon sink. Despite these uncertainties, many proposed carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and “blue carbon” climate mitigation strategies rely on ocean sediments as carbon sinks.

The coastal oceanography and global modeling communities currently operate in separate silos. This working group will be an important step forward to bridge the knowledge gap left by the lack of integration between coastal and global efforts. We hope to identify gaps in our understanding of key processes in benthic communities across space in the coastal ocean. We will bring together a community of observationalists and modelers to integrate knowledge on coastal and open ocean benthic fluxes and biota, and coastal water column nutrient fluxes, which can be influenced by benthic-pelagic interactions. To that end, we have the following goals:

  1. Facilitate communication and data sharing between coastal and global biogeochemical / ecosystem modelers and observationalists.
  2. Establish shared data protocols, including common definitions and variable names/units.
  3. Develop data products for model development.
  4. Develop recommendations for future directions in observations and modeling.

Read the full proposal

Open Webinars

Title/TopicDateSpeakersLink to register or watch recording
Benthic ecosystems2023 July TBD
Oxygen fluxes2023 May TBD
Introduction to Working Group and Overview of Benthic Ecosystem and Carbon Synthesis2023 March 13Cristina Schultz and Jessica Luo introduced the BECS working group in the context of past OCB efforts.

Jack Middelburg (Professor of Geosciences at Utrecht University, The Netherlands) is an international leader on ocean biogeochemical cycles, particularly sedimentary inorganic cycles and benthic ecosystems.

Lead Investigators

Cristina Schultz (Northeastern University)

Jessica Luo (NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory)


Wally Fulweiler (Boston University)

Colleen Petrik (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

Matthew H. Long (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Jeremy Testa (University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences)

Damian Brady (University of Maine)