Effects of climate change and perturbation in biogeochemical cycles on oxygen distribution and ocean acidification

Dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration in the ocean is an important component of the marine biogeochemical cycles. In this study a global oceanic carbon cycle model (HAMOCC 2.0) was used to address how oxygen minimum zones (OMZ) respond to changes due to CO2 radiative forcing. Atmospheric pCO 2 was increased at a rate of 1% annually and the model is stabilized at 2 X, 4 X, 6 X, and 8 X preindustrial pCO2 levels. With an increase in CO2 radiative forcing, the OMZ in the Pacific Ocean was controlled largely by changes in particulate organic carbon (POC) export. In contrast, the vertical expansion of the OMZs within the Atlantic and Indian Oceans were the result of changes to oxygen solubility. Changes in oxygen solubility also lead to the formation of a new OMZ in the western sub-tropical Pacific Ocean. The response of the pH value to a total carbon emission of 4480 PgC or 8 times preindustrial pCO2 was found to be comparable to the ocean acidification at the PETM (56 Ma). The HAMOCC 2.0 simulations indicate a significant relationship between the pH value and the DO concentration at intermediate depth. This can lead to stress for the marine ecosystem by further decreasing pH due to respiratory processes. Improved parameterization may enhance the predictability of regions with low DO concentrations and pH value. A 50% increase in atmospheric dust deposition did not significantly alter the regions of Fe limitation of export production and hence did not resulted in significant changes in DO in the twilight zone and at intermediate depth. However, a 50% reduction in dust deposition significantly expanded the regions of Fe-limited export production thereby reducing the vertical particle flux of POC and the extent of the OMZs. This counteracted the OMZ expansion due to the increased CO2 radiative forcing.

Beaty-Sykes T. M., 2014. Effects of climate change and perturbation in biogeochemical cycles on oxygen distribution and ocean acidification. PhD thesis. The University of Texas at Arlington, 155 pages. 3670469. Thesis (restricted access).

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