Natural variability in seawater pH and associated carbonate chemistry parameters is in part driven by biological activities such as photosynthesis and respiration. The amplitude of these variations is expected to increase with increasing seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the future, because of simultaneously decreasing buffer capacity. Here, we address this experimentally during a diurnal cycle in a mesocosm CO2 perturbation study. We show that for about the same amount of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) utilized in net community production diel variability in proton (H+) and CO2 concentrations was almost three times higher at CO2 levels of about 675 ± 65 in comparison with levels of 310 ± 30 μatm. With a simple model, adequately simulating our measurements, we visualize carbonate chemistry variability expected for different oceanic regions with relatively low or high net community production. Since enhanced diurnal variability in CO2 and proton concentration may require stronger cellular regulation in phytoplankton to maintain respective gradients, the ability to adjust may differ between communities adapted to low in comparison with high natural variability.
Schulz K. G. & Riebesell U., in press. Diurnal changes in seawater carbonate chemistry speciation at increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Marine Biology. Article.