The contribution of acid deposition to ocean acidification in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean

Bates N. R. & Peters A. J.

The absorption of anthropogenic CO2 and atmospheric deposition of acidity can both contribute to the acidification of the global ocean. Rainfall pH measurements and chemical compositions monitored on the island of Bermuda since 1980, and a long-term seawater CO2 time-series (1983-2005) in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda were used to evaluate the influence of acidic deposition on the acidification of oligotrophic waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and coastal waters of the coral reef ecosystem of Bermuda.


Since the early 1980’s, the average annual wet deposition of acidity at Bermuda was 15 +14 mmol m-2
year-1, while surface seawater pH decreased by 0.0012 + 0.0006 pH units each year. The gradual acidification of subtropical gyre waters was primarily due to uptake of anthropogenic CO2. We estimate that direct atmospheric acid deposition contributed 2% to the acidification of surface waters in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean, although this value likely represent an upper limit. Acidifying deposition had negligible influence on seawater CO2 chemistry of the Bermuda coral reef, with no evident impact on hard coral calcification.

Bates N. R. & Peters A. J., in press. The contribution of acid deposition to ocean acidification in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. Marine Chemistry. Article.

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