Simulated effect of deep-sea sedimentation and terrestrial weathering on projections of ocean acidification

Projections of ocean acidification have often been based on ocean carbon cycle models that do not represent deep-sea sedimentation and terrestrial weathering. Here we use an Earth system model of intermediate complexity to quantify the effect of sedimentation and weathering on projections of ocean acidification under an intensive CO2 emission scenario that releases 5000 PgC after year 2000. In our simulations, atmospheric CO2 reaches a peak concentration of 2123 ppm near year 2300 with a maximum reduction in surface pH of 0.8. Consideration of deep-sea sedimentation and terrestrial weathering has negligible effect on these peak changes. Only after several millenniums, sedimentation and weathering feedbacks substantially affect projected ocean acidification. Ten thousand years from today, in the constant-alkalinity simulation, surface pH is reduced by ∼0.7 with 95% of the polar oceans undersaturated with respect to calcite, and no ocean has a calcite saturation horizon (CSH) that is deeper than 1000 m. With the consideration of sediment feedback alone, surface pH is reduced by ∼0.5 with 35% of the polar oceans experiencing calcite undersaturation, and 8% global ocean has a CSH deeper than 1000 m. With the addition of weathering feedback, depending on the weathering parameterizations, surface pH is reduced by 0.2-0.4 with no polar oceans experiencing calcite undersaturation, and 30-80% ocean has a CSH that is deeper than 1000 m. Our results indicate that deep-sea sedimentation and terrestrial weathering play an important role in long-term ocean acidification, but have little effect on mitigating ocean acidification in the coming centuries.

Cao L., Zheng M. & Caldeira K., in press. Simulated effect of deep-sea sedimentation and terrestrial weathering on projections of ocean acidification. Journal of Geophysical Research. Article (subscription required).

 


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