Remote effects of mixed layer development on ocean acidification in the subsurface layers of the North Pacific

Using the outputs of projections under the highest emission scenario of the representative concentration pathways performed by Earth system models (ESMs), we evaluate the ocean acidification rates of subsurface layers of the western North Pacific, where the strongest sink of atmospheric CO2 is found in the mid-latitudes. The low potential vorticity water mass called the North Pacific Subtropical Mode Water (STMW) shows large dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentration increase, and is advected southwestward, so that, in the sea to the south of Japan, DIC concentration increases and ocean acidification occurs faster than in adjacent regions. In the STMW of the Izu-Ogasawara region, the ocean acidification occurs with a pH decrease of ~0.004 year−1 , a much higher rate than the previously estimated global average (0.0023 year−1), so that the pH decreases by 0.3–0.4 during the twenty-first century and the saturation state of calcite (ΩCa) decreases from ~4.8 down to ~2.4. We find that the ESMs with a deeper mixed layer in the Kuroshio Extension region show a larger increase in DIC concentration within the Izu-Ogasawara region and within the Ryukyu Islands region. Comparing model results with the mixed layer depth obtained from the Argo dataset, we estimate that DIC concentration at a depth of ~200 m increases by 1.4–1.6 μmol kg−1 year−1 in the Izu-Ogasawara region and by 1.1–1.4 μmol kg−1 year−1 in the Ryukyu Islands region toward the end of this century.

Watanabe M. & Kawamiya M., in press. Remote effects of mixed layer development on ocean acidification in the subsurface layers of the North Pacific. Journal of Oceanography. Article (subscription required).

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