The Arctic Ocean accounts for only 4% of the global ocean area but it contributes significantly to the global carbon cycle. Recent observations of seawater carbonate chemistry in shelf waters of the Western Arctic from 2009 to 2011 indicate that extensive areas of the benthos are exposed to bottom waters that are seasonally undersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate (CaCO3) minerals, particularly aragonite. Our observations indicate seasonal reduction of saturation states (Ω) for calcite (Ωcalcite) and aragonite (Ωaragonite) in the subsurface in the Western Arctic by as much as 0.9 and 0.6, respectively. Such data indicates that bottom waters of the Western Arctic shelves are already potentially corrosive for biogenic and sedimentary CaCO3 for several months each year. Seasonal changes in Ω are imparted by a variety of factors such as phytoplankton photosynthesis, respiration/remineralization of organic matter and air-sea gas exchange of CO2 – combined these processes either increase or enhance Ω in surface and subsurface waters, respectively. These seasonal physical and biological processes also act to mitigate or enhance the impact of Anthropocene ocean acidification (OA) on Ω in surface and subsurface waters, respectively. Future monitoring of the Western Arctic shelves is warranted to assess the present and future impact on Ω values from ocean acidification and seasonal biological/physical processes on Arctic marine ecosystems.
Bates N. R., Orchowska M. I., Garley R. & Mathis J. T., 2012. Seasonal calcium carbonate undersaturation in shelf waters of the Western Arctic Ocean; how biological processes exacerbate the impact of ocean acidification. Biogeosciences Discussions 9: 14255-14290. Article.