Decreasing pH trend estimated from 35-yr time series of carbonate parameters in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean in summer

The Southern Ocean is an important region for investigation because it has a major effect on global air-to-sea CO2 fluxes and because of the ocean acidification resulting from the uptake of anthropogenic carbon, leading to serious consequences for marine ecosystems in the near future. We estimated long-term trends of ocean acidification in surface waters of the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean, based on the summer observational records of oceanic CO2 partial pressure and related surface properties during 1969–2003. The computed pH time series exhibited substantial decreasing trends in the extensive region from the subtropical to polar zones. The mean rates of pH decrease over the 35-year period were 0.0011 to 0.0013 yr–1 in the zones north of the Polar Front and were larger in the polar zone (0.0020 yr–1). The contribution of trends in sea surface temperature to the trends of pH decrease was small in all zones. The high rate of pH decrease in the polar zone was attributed to the supply of dissolved inorganic carbon from lower layers, enhanced by intensified wind stress and superimposed onto the accumulation of anthropogenic CO2. A preliminary evaluation of thermodynamic changes in the upper carbonate system, using observational results, projected that the polar zone south of the Polar Front would be undersaturated with respect to aragonite in summer after 80 years.

Midorikawa T., Inoue H. Y., Ishii M., Sasanoa D., Kosugi N., Hashida G., Nakaoka S., Suzuki T., in press. Decreasing pH trend estimated from 35-yr time series of carbonate parameters in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean in summer. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2011.12.003. Article (subscription required).


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