Acceleration of modern acidification in the South China Sea driven by anthropogenic CO2

Modern acidification by the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 can profoundly affect the physiology of marine organisms and the structure of ocean ecosystems. Centennial-scale global and regional influences of anthropogenic CO2 remain largely unknown due to limited instrumental pH records. Here we present coral boron isotope-inferred pH records for two periods from the South China Sea: AD 1048–1079 and AD 1838–2001. There are no significant pH differences between the first period at the Medieval Warm Period and AD 1830–1870. However, we find anomalous and unprecedented acidification during the 20th century, pacing the observed increase in atmospheric CO2. Moreover, pH value also varies in phase with inter-decadal changes in Asian Winter Monsoon intensity. As the level of atmospheric CO2 keeps rising, the coupling global warming via weakening the winter monsoon intensity could exacerbate acidification of the South China Sea and threaten this expansive shallow water marine ecosystem.

Liu Y., Peng Z., Zhou R., Song S., Liu W., You C.-F., Lin Y.-P., Yu K., Wu C.-C., Wei G., Xie L., Burr G. S. & Shen C.-C., 2014. Acceleration of modern acidification in the South China Sea driven by anthropogenic CO2. Scientific Reports 4:5148. Article.


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