The increase in atmospheric CO2 is a dual threat to the marine environment: from one side it drives climate change leading to changes in water temperature, circulation patterns and stratification intensity; on the other side it causes a decrease in pH (Ocean Acidification or OA) due to the increase in dissolved CO2. Assessing the combined impact of climate change and OA on marine ecosystems is a challenging task: the response of the ecosystem to a single driver is highly variable and still uncertain, as well as the interaction between these that could be either synergistic or antagonistic. In this work we use the coupled oceanographic-ecosystem model POLCOMS-ERSEM driven by climate forcing to study the interaction between climate change and OA. We focus in particular on primary production and nitrogen speciation. The model has been run in three different configurations in order to separate the impacts of ocean acidification from those due to climate change. The model shows significant interaction among the drivers and high variability in the spatial response of the ecosystem. Impacts of climate change and of OA on primary production have similar magnitude, compensating in some area and exacerbating in others. On the contrary, the direct impact of OA on nitrification is much lower than the one imposed by climate change.
Artioli Y., Blackford J. C., Nondal G., Bellerby R. G. J., Wakelin S. L., Holt J. T., Butenschön M. & Allen J. I., 2013. Heterogeneity of impacts of high CO2 on the North Western European Shelf. Biogeosciences Discussions 10: 9389-9413. Article.