Carbon And The Ocean -- The Slow Cycle - The oceans are vast, and their processes as complex as their waters are deep.Phytoplankton absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and nutrient rich waters and grows in wide colonies called blooms. These blooms are highly dependent on surrounding environmental conditions. As phytoplankton grows, it forms the foundation for the food chain, thus passing carbon up to higher life forms. But just as on land, links in the ocean's chain of life also break, and stored carbon settles out of the top layers of water. A portion of it gets swept back to the surface as upwellings, only to begin again, but a major portion sinks to the bottom, becoming what oceanographers call 'marine snow.' This decomposing biological matter literally precipitates through the water and builds up on the ocean bottom, essentially sequestered from the rest of the Earth for geologically long periods of time. Note: This is the standard definition version of the Carbon Cycle (Ocean case) animation MPEG. Animator: Susan Twardy (HTSI). Scientist: Gene Feldman (NASA/GSFC). Writer: Michael Starobin (HTSI).