Oxygen and indicators of stress for marine life in multi-model global warming projections (update)

Decadal-to-century scale trends for a range of marine environmental variables in the upper mesopelagic layer (UML, 100–600 m) are investigated using results from seven Earth System Models forced by a high greenhouse gas emission scenario. The models as a class represent the observation-based distribution of oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2), albeit major mismatches between observation-based and simulated values remain for individual models. By year 2100 all models project an increase in SST between 2 °C and 3 °C, and a decrease in the pH and in the saturation state of water with respect to calcium carbonate minerals in the UML. A decrease in the total ocean inventory of dissolved oxygen by 2% to 4% is projected by the range of models. Projected O2 changes in the UML show a complex pattern with both increasing and decreasing trends reflecting the subtle balance of different competing factors such as circulation, production, remineralization, and temperature changes. Projected changes in the total volume of hypoxic and suboxic waters remain relatively small in all models. A widespread increase of CO2 in the UML is projected. The median of the CO2 distribution between 100 and 600m shifts from 0.1–0.2 mol m−3 in year 1990 to 0.2–0.4 mol m−3 in year 2100, primarily as a result of the invasion of anthropogenic carbon from the atmosphere. The co-occurrence of changes in a range of environmental variables indicates the need to further investigate their synergistic impacts on marine ecosystems and Earth System feedbacks.

Cocco V., Joos F., Steinacher M., Frölicher T. L., Bopp L., Dunne J., Gehlen M., Heinze C., Orr J., Oschlies A., Schneider B., Segschneider J. & Tjiputra J., 2013. Oxygen and indicators of stress for marine life in multi-model global warming projections. Biogeosciences 10: 1849-1868. Article.

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