Significant long-term increase of fossil fuel CO2 uptake from reduced marine calcification

Analysis of available plankton manipulation experiments demonstrates a previously unrecognized wide range of sensitivities of biogenic calcification to simulated anthropogenic acidification of the ocean, with the "lab rat” of planktic calcifiers, Emiliania huxleyi not representative of calcification generally. We assess the implications of the experimental uncertainty in plankton calcification response by creating an ensemble of realizations of an Earth system model that encapsulates a comparable range of uncertainty in calcification response. We predict a substantial future reduction in marine carbonate production, with ocean CO2 sequestration across the model ensemble enhanced by between 62 and 199 PgC by the year 3000, equivalent to a reduction in the atmospheric fossil fuel CO2 burden at that time of up to 13%. Concurrent changes in ocean circulation and surface temperatures contribute about one third to the overall importance of reduced plankton calcification.

Ridgwell A., Zondervan I, Hargreaves J. C. , Bijma J., Lenton T. M., 2006.  Significant long-term increase of fossil fuel CO2 uptake from reduced marine calcification. Biogeosciences Discussions, 3, 1763-1780, 2006. Article.

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