Thomas Weber

Assistant Professor
PhD , University of California

126 Hutchison Hall
(585) 275-2103

Office Hours: By appointment


Research Overview

The "biological pump" is the suite of processes by which marine organisms sequester carbon in the deep ocean, out of contact with the atmosphere.  It both drives and responds to global climate change on decadal to millennial timescales.  My research uses numerical models to understand various processes that control the strength of the biological pump and their sensitivity to environmental change: plankton ecology and physiology; cycling of growth-limiting nutrients; and the respiration of organic particles by diverse microbial communities in the ocean interior, especially in low-oxygen habitat.  My modeling work is always motivated and guided by observations, and I collaborate closely with observational oceanographers to interpret new and exploratory datasets.

My previous research has largely focused on the cycling of nitrogen, the primary limiting nutrient for phytoplankton communities throughout most of the global ocean.  I have explored the biological basis and geochemical consequences of diverse nitrogen stoichiometry among phytoplankton, and the feedbacks between nitrogen-fixing and denitrifying organisms that govern the productivity of the ocean as a whole.  Recently, I have expanded my research into two new areas.  First, I am interested in the cycling of trace metals (Fe, Zn, Cd) that serve as "micronutrients" and enzyme co-factors for phytoplankton.  The ongoing GEOTRACES program is revealing the oceanic distributions of these metals for the first time, and my modeling efforts are designed to provide new insights to the cycling rates and processes responsible.  Second, I am interested in the fate of organic carbon exported from the surface ocean.  By combining simple models with large datasets from Underwater Visual Profilers, I am to better understand the controls on organic particle sinking and respiration rates, and the depths at which carbon is sequestered.

Courses Offered (subject to change)

  • EES  232/432  Seminar in Ocean Biogeochemistry
  • EES 233/433  Marine Ecosystem and Carbon Cycle Modeling

Selected Publications

  • Weber, T.S., J. Cram, S. Leung, T. DeVries, C. Deutsch, (in press) Deep ocean nutrients imply large latitudinal gradients in particle transfer efficiency, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
  • Deutsch, C.D., W. Berelson, R. Thunnel, T.S. Weber, C. Tems, et al (2014), Centennial changes in North Pacific anoxia linked to tropical trade winds, Science, 345, p.665-668.
  • Weber, T.S., C. Deutsch (2014), Local vs. basin-scale limitation of marine nitrogen fixation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 111, p.8741-8746.
  • Weber, T.S. and C. Deutsch (2012), Oceanic nitrogen reservoir regulated by plankton diversity and ocean circulation, Nature, 489, p.419-424.
  • Deutsch, C. and T.S. Weber (2012), Nutrient ratios as a tracer and driver of ocean biogeochemistry, Annual Review of Marine Science 4, p.113-141.
  • Weber, T.S. and C. Deutsch (2010). Ocean nutrient ratios governed by plankton biogeography, Nature, 467, p.550-554.