Simulated effect of calcification feedback on atmospheric CO2 and ocean acidification

Ocean uptake of anthropogenic CO2 reduces pH and saturation state of calcium carbonate materials of seawater, which could reduce the calcification rate of some marine organisms, triggering a negative feedback on the growth of atmospheric CO2. We quantify the effect of this CO2-calcification feedback by conducting a series of Earth system model simulations that incorporate different parameterization schemes describing the dependence of calcification rate on saturation state of CaCO3. In a scenario with SRES A2 CO2 emission until 2100 and zero emission afterwards, by year 3500, in the simulation without CO2-calcification feedback, model projects an accumulated ocean CO2 uptake of 1462 PgC, atmospheric CO2 of 612 ppm, and surface pH of 7.9. Inclusion of CO2-calcification feedback increases ocean CO2 uptake by 9 to 285 PgC, reduces atmospheric CO2 by 4 to 70 ppm, and mitigates the reduction in surface pH by 0.003 to 0.06, depending on the form of parameterization scheme used. It is also found that the effect of CO2-calcification feedback on ocean carbon uptake is comparable and could be much larger than the effect from CO2-induced warming. Our results highlight the potentially important role CO2-calcification feedback plays in ocean carbon cycle and projections of future atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Zhang H. & Cao L., 2016. Simulated effect of calcification feedback on atmospheric CO2 and ocean acidification. Scientific Reports 6:20284. Article.

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