Concomitant ocean acidification and increasing total alkalinity at a coastal site in the NW Mediterranean Sea (2007-2015)

Monitoring of global ocean change is necessary in coastal zones due to their physical and biological complexity. Here, we document changes in coastal carbonate chemistry at the coastal time-series station, Point B, in the NW Mediterranean Sea from 2007 through 2015 at 1 and 50 m. The rate of surface ocean acidification (−0.0028 ± 0.0003 units pHT yr−1) was faster-than-expected based on atmospheric carbon dioxide forcing alone. Changes in carbonate chemistry were predominantly driven by an increase in total dissolved inorganic carbon (CT, +2.97 ± 0.20 μmol kg−1 yr−1), > 50 % of which was buffered by a synchronous increase in total alkalinity (AT, +2.08 ± 0.19 μmol kg−1 yr−1). The increase in AT was unrelated to salinity and its cause remains to be identified. Interestingly, concurrent increases in AT and CT were most rapid from May to July. Changes at 50 m were slower compared to 1 m. It seems therefore likely that changes in coastal AT cycling via a shallow coastal process gave rise to these observations. This study exemplifies the importance of understanding coastal ocean acidification through localized biogeochemical cycling that extends beyond simple air-sea gas exchange dynamics, in order to make relevant predictions about future coastal ocean change and ecosystem function.

Kapsenberg L., Alliouane S., Gazeau F., Mousseau L.  Gattuso J.-P., in press. Concomitant ocean acidification and increasing total alkalinity at a coastal site in the NW Mediterranean Sea (2007-2015). Ocean Science Discussions. Article.

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