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Life’s Critical Role in the Long-term Carbon Cycle: the Biotic Enhancement of Weathering

David W. Schwartzman

*Corresponding author: David W. Schwartzman dschwartzman@gmail.com


The biotic enhancement of weathering (BEW) has important implications for the long-term carbon cycle, in particular as a driver of climatic cooling. The BEW factor is defined as how much faster the silicate weathering carbon sink is under biotic conditions than under abiotic conditions at the same atmospheric pCO2 level and surface temperature. The BEW factor and its evolution over geological time can potentially be inferred from consideration of empirical and theoretical weathering studies. Estimates of the global magnitude of the BEW are presented, drawing from laboratory, field, watershed data and models of the long-term carbon cycle, with values ranging from one to two orders of magnitude.

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