Thermodynamic forecasts of the Mediterranean Sea acidification

Anthropogenic CO2 is a major driver of the present ocean acidification. This latter is threatening the marine ecosystems and has been identified as a major environmental and economic menace. This study aims to forecast from the thermodynamic equations, the acidification variation (ΔpH) of the Mediterranean waters over the next few decades and beyond this century. In order to do so, we calculated and fitted the theoretical values based upon the initial conditions from data of the 2013 MedSeA cruise. These estimates have been performed both for the Western and for the Eastern basins based upon their respective physical (temperature and salinity) and chemical (total alkalinity and total inorganic carbon) properties. The results allow us to point out four tipping points, including one when the Mediterranean Sea waters would become acid (pH<7).

In order to provide an associated time scale to the theoretical results, we used two of the IPCC (2007) atmospheric CO2 scenarios. Under the most optimistic scenario of the “Special Report: Emissions Scenarios” (SRES) of the IPCC (2007), the results indicate that in 2100, pH may decrease down to 0.245 in the Western basin and down to 0.242 in the Eastern basin (compared to the pre-industrial pH). Whereas for the most pessimistic SRES scenario of the IPCC (2007), the results for the year 2100, forecast a pH decrease down to 0.462 and 0.457, for the Western and for the Eastern basins, respectively. Acidification, which increased unprecedentedly in recent years, will rise almost similarly in both Mediterranean basins only well after the end of this century. These results further confirm that both basins may become undersaturated (< 1) with respect to calcite and aragonite (at the base of the mixed layer depth), only in the far future (in a few centuries).

Goyet C., Hassoun A. E. R., Gemayel E., Touratier F., Abbous-Abi Saab M. & Guglielmi V., in press. Thermodynamic forecasts of the Mediterranean Sea acidification. Mediterranean Marine Science. Article.


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