Bubble stripping as a tool to reduce high dissolved CO2 in coastal marine ecosystems

High dissolved CO2 concentrations in coastal ecosystems are a common occurrence due to a combination of large ecosystem metabolism, shallow water, and long residence times. Many important coastal species may have adapted to this natural variability over time, but eutrophication and ocean acidification may be perturbing the water chemistry beyond the bounds of tolerance for these organisms. We are currently limited in our ability to deal with the geochemical changes unfolding in our coastal ocean. This study helps to address this deficit of solutions by introducing bubble stripping as a novel geochemical engineering approach to reducing high CO2 in coastal marine ecosystems. We use a process-based model to find that air/sea gas exchange rates within a bubbled system are 1–2 orders of magnitude higher than within a nonbubbled system. By coupling bubbling-enhanced ventilation to a coastal ecosystem metabolism model, we demonstrate that strategically timed bubble plumes can mitigate exposure to high CO2 under present-day conditions and that exposure mitigation is enhanced in the more acidic conditions predicted by the end of the century. We argue that shallow water CO2 bubble stripping should be considered among the growing list of engineering approaches intended to increase coastal resilience in a changing ocean.

Koweek D. A., Mucciarone D. A. & Dunbar R. B., in press. Bubble stripping as a tool to reduce high dissolved CO2 in coastal marine ecosystems. Environmental Science & Technology. Article (subscription required).


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