Sensitivity of pelagic CaCO3 dissolution to ocean acidification in an ocean biogeochemical model

In ocean biogeochemical models pelagic CaCO3 dissolution is usually calculated as R = k * Sn, where k is the dissolution rate constant transforming S, the degree of (under-) saturation of seawater with respect to CaCO3, into a time dependent rate R, and n is the reaction rate order. Generally, there are two ways to define the saturation state of seawater with respect to CaCO3: (1) Δ[CO32−], which reflects the difference between the in-situ carbonate ion concentration and the saturation concentration, and (2) Ω, which is approximated by the ratio of in-situ carbonate ion concentration over the saturation concentration. Although describing the same phenomenon, the deviation from equilibrium, both expressions are not equally applicable for the calculation of CaCO3 dissolution in the ocean across pressure gradients, as they differ in their sensitivity to ocean acidification (change of [CO32−]) over depth. In the present study we use a marine biogeochemical model to test the sensitivity of pelagic CaCO3 dissolution to ocean acidification (1–4 × CO2 + stabilization), exploring the possible parameter space for CaCO3 dissolution kinetics as given in the literature. We find that at the millennial time scale there is a wide range of CaCO3 particle flux attenuation into the ocean interior (e.g. a reduction of −55 to −85% at 1000 m depth), which means that there are significant differences in the impact on particle ballasting, depending on the kinetic expression applied.

Regenberg A., Schneider B. & Gangstø R., 2013. Sensitivity of pelagic CaCO3 dissolution to ocean acidification in an ocean biogeochemical model. Biogeosciences Discussions 10: 11343-11373. Article.

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