Contrasting responses of DMS and DMSP to ocean acidification in Arctic waters

Increasing atmospheric CO2 is decreasing ocean pH most rapidly in colder regions such as the Arctic. As a component of the EPOCA pelagic mesocosm experiment off Spitzbergen in 2010, we examined the consequences of decreased pH and increased pCO2 on the concentrations of dimethylsulphide (DMS). DMS is an important reactant and contributor to aerosol formation and growth in the Arctic troposphere. In the nine mesocosms with initial pH 8.3 to 7.5, equivalent to pCO2 of 180 to 1420 μatm, highly significant but inverse responses to acidity (hydrogen ion concentration [H+]) occurred following nutrient addition. Compared to ambient [H+], average concentrations of DMS during the most representative phase of the 30 d experiment were reduced by approximately 60% at the highest [H+] and by 35% at [H+] equivalent to 750 μatm pCO2, as predicted for 2100. In contrast, concentrations of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), the precursor of DMS, were elevated by approximately 50% at the highest [H+] and by 30% at [H+] corresponding to 750 μatm pCO2. Measurements of the specific rate of synthesis of DMSP by phytoplankton indicate increased production at high [H+], in parallel to rates of inorganic carbon fixation. The elevated DMSP production at high [H+] was largely a consequence of increased dinoflagellate biomass and in particular, the increased abundance of the species Heterocapsa rotundata. We discuss both phytoplankton and bacterial processes that may explain the reduced ratios of DMS:DMSPt at higher [H+]. The experimental design of eight treatment levels provides comparatively robust empirical relationships of DMS and DMSP concentration, DMSP production and dinoflagellate biomass versus [H+] in Arctic waters.

Archer S. D., Kimmance S. A., Stephens J. A., Hopkins F. E., Bellerby R. G. J. Schulz, K. G. Piontek, J. & Engel A., 2012. Contrasting responses of DMS and DMSP to ocean acidification in Arctic waters. Biogeosciences Discussions 9: 12803-12843. Article.

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