Archive for April, 2018

Push from the Pacific

Enhanced upwelling and CO2 degassing from the subpolar North Pacific during a warm event 14,000 years ago may have helped keep atmospheric CO2 levels high enough to propel the Earth out of the last ice age.

Continue reading ‘Push from the Pacific’

Deglacial upwelling, productivity and CO2 outgassing in the North Pacific Ocean

The interplay between ocean circulation and biological productivity affects atmospheric CO2 levels and marine oxygen concentrations. During the warming of the last deglaciation, the North Pacific experienced a peak in productivity and widespread hypoxia, with changes in circulation, iron supply and light limitation all proposed as potential drivers. Here we use the boron-isotope composition of planktic foraminifera from a sediment core in the western North Pacific to reconstruct pH and dissolved CO2 concentrations from 24,000 to 8,000 years ago. We find that the productivity peak during the Bølling–Allerød warm interval, 14,700 to 12,900 years ago, was associated with a decrease in near-surface pH and an increase in pCO2, and must therefore have been driven by increased supply of nutrient- and CO2-rich waters. In a climate model ensemble (PMIP3), the presence of large ice sheets over North America results in high rates of wind-driven upwelling within the subpolar North Pacific. We suggest that this process, combined with collapse of North Pacific Intermediate Water formation at the onset of the Bølling–Allerød, led to high rates of upwelling of water rich in nutrients and CO2, and supported the peak in productivity. The respiration of this organic matter, along with poor ventilation, probably caused the regional hypoxia. We suggest that CO2 outgassing from the North Pacific helped to maintain high atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the Bølling–Allerød and contributed to the deglacial CO2 rise.

Continue reading ‘Deglacial upwelling, productivity and CO2 outgassing in the North Pacific Ocean’

Seaweed farming and its surprising benefits (text and video)

Seaweed may be thought of as a nuisance, but an increasing number of fishermen, scientists and consumers are seeing it as a solution

Many of us think of seaweed as a nuisance — the slimy, sometimes smelly stuff that clogs fishermen’s nets, gets tangled in our ankles in the ocean, and washes up unwanted on the beach. Even its name — sea-weed — implies something undesirable.

Continue reading ‘Seaweed farming and its surprising benefits (text and video)’

‘Ask a scientist’ – video series by the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network

The Alaska OA Network has launched a new video series where scientists answer a question about ocean acidification in 5 minutes or less.


Question: Are we seeing impacts from oceans acidification on species in Alaska right now?
Speaker: Bob Foy, NOAA Kodiak Lab

Continue reading ‘‘Ask a scientist’ – video series by the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network’

Symbiodinium functional diversity in the coral Siderastrea siderea is influenced by thermal stress and reef environment, but not ocean acidification

Coral bleaching events are increasing in frequency, demanding examination of the physiological and molecular responses of scleractinian corals and their algal symbionts (Symbiodinium sp.) to stressors associated with bleaching. Here, we quantify the effects of long-term (95-day) thermal and CO2-acidification stress on photochemical efficiency of in hospite Symbiodinium within the coral Siderastrea siderea, along with corresponding coral color intensity, for corals from two reef zones (forereef, nearshore) on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. We then explore the molecular responses of in hospite Symbiodinium to these stressors via genome-wide gene expression profiling. Elevated temperatures reduced symbiont photochemical efficiencies and were highly correlated with coral color loss. However, photochemical efficiencies of forereef symbionts were more negatively affected by thermal stress than nearshore symbionts, suggesting greater thermal tolerance and/or reduced photodamage in nearshore corals. At control temperatures, CO2-acidification had little effect on symbiont physiology, although forereef symbionts exhibited constitutively higher photochemical efficiencies than nearshore symbionts. Gene expression profiling revealed that S. siderea were dominated by Symbiodinium goreaui (C1), except under thermal stress, which caused shifts to thermotolerant Symbiodinium trenchii (D1a). Comparative transcriptomics of conserved genes across the host and symbiont revealed few differentially expressed S. goreaui genes when compared to S. siderea, highlighting the host’s role in the coral’s response to environmental stress. Although S. goreaui transcriptomes did not vary in response to acidification stress, their gene expression was strongly dependent on reef zone, with forereef S. goreaui exhibiting enrichment of genes associated with photosynthesis. This finding, coupled with constitutively higher forereef S. goreaui photochemical efficiencies, suggests that functional differences in genes associated with primary production exist between reef zones.

Continue reading ‘Symbiodinium functional diversity in the coral Siderastrea siderea is influenced by thermal stress and reef environment, but not ocean acidification’

Characterization of a γ‐aminobutyrate type A receptor‐associated protein gene, which is involved in the response of Portunus trituberculatus to CO2‐induced ocean acidification

The γ‐aminobutyrate type A receptor‐associated protein (GABARAP) is a ubiquitin‐like modifier implicated in membrane trafficking and fusion events involving the γ‐aminobutyrate type A receptor, autophagy and apoptosis. In this study, the gene encoding GABARAP was cloned from swimming crab Portunus trituberculatus (PtGABARAP) based on the expression sequence tag (EST). The full‐length cDNA of 664 bp includes a 5′ untranslated region (UTR) of 87 bp, a 3′ UTR of 223 bp with a poly(A) tail, and an open reading frame (ORF) of 354 bp encoding a polypeptide of 117 amino acids with a predicted molecular weight of 13.96 kDa. The deduced amino acid sequence shares high similarity (93%–100%) with GABARAPs from other species and includes a conserved Atg8 domain. In a phylogenetic analysis PtGABARAP clustered with GABARAPs from other species, and more widely with other GABARAP family proteins. The impact of elevated ocean acidification (OA) on P. trituberculatus behaviours was investigated, and real‐time RT‐PCR revealed that PtGABARAP expression was up‐regulated after OA exposure. Ocean acidification also caused crabs anxiety‐like behaviours, like the shoal average speed increase, preference for dark environment (scototaxis) and fast exploration. The results indicated that GABARAP might be involved in the interactions of GABAA receptors and elevated‐CO2 seawater.

Continue reading ‘Characterization of a γ‐aminobutyrate type A receptor‐associated protein gene, which is involved in the response of Portunus trituberculatus to CO2‐induced ocean acidification’

Clipper race collaborates on pioneering US ocean research

When the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race departs Seattle for the penultimate leg of its 40,000 nm circumnavigation of the planet, it will be engaging in pioneering scientific research. One of the team yachts, Visit Seattle, has been fitted with a special sensor, for monitoring the effects of ocean acidification around the US Coast.

Continue reading ‘Clipper race collaborates on pioneering US ocean research’

The response of seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) meadow metabolism to CO2 levels and hydrodynamic exchange determined with aquatic eddy covariance

We investigated light, water velocity, and CO2 as drivers of primary production in Mediterranean seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) meadows and neighboring bare sands using the aquatic eddy covariance technique. Study locations included an open-water meadow and a nearshore meadow, the nearshore meadow being exposed to greater hydrodynamic exchange. A third meadow was located at a CO2 vent. We found that, despite the oligotrophic environment, the meadows had a remarkably high metabolic activity, up to 20 times higher than the surrounding sands. They were strongly autotrophic, with net production half of gross primary production. Thus, P. oceanica meadows are oases of productivity in an unproductive environment. Secondly, we found that turbulent oxygen fluxes above the meadow can be significantly higher in the afternoon than in the morning at the same light levels. This hysteresis can be explained by the replenishment of nighttime-depleted oxygen within the meadow during the morning. Oxygen depletion and replenishment within the meadow do not contribute to turbulent O2 flux. The hysteresis disappeared when fluxes were corrected for the O2 storage within the meadow and, consequently, accurate metabolic rate measurements require measurements of meadow oxygen content. We further argue that oxygen-depleted waters in the meadow provide a source of CO2 and inorganic nutrients for fixation, especially in the morning. Contrary to expectation, meadow metabolic activity at the CO2 vent was lower than at the other sites, with negligible net primary production.

Continue reading ‘The response of seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) meadow metabolism to CO2 levels and hydrodynamic exchange determined with aquatic eddy covariance’

An evaluation of the performance of Sea-Bird scientific’s autonomous SeaFETTM: considerations for the broader oceanographic community

The commercially available Sea-Bird SeaFETTM provides an accessible way for a broad community of researchers to study ocean acidification and obtain robust measurements of seawater pH via the use of an in situ autonomous sensor. There are pitfalls, however, that have been detailed in previous best practices for sensor care, deployment, and data handling. Here, we took advantage of two distinctly different coastal settings to evaluate the Sea-Bird SeaFETTM and examine the multitude of scenarios in which problems may arise confounding the accuracy of measured pH. High-resolution temporal measurements of pH were obtained during 3- to 5-month field deployments in three separate locations (two in south-central, Alaska, USA, and one British Columbia, CA) spanning a broad range of nearshore temperature and salinity conditions. Both the internal and external electrodes onboard the SeaFETTM were evaluated against robust benchtop measurements for accuracy utilizing either the factory calibration, an in situ single-point calibration, or in situ multi-point calibration. In addition, two sensors deployed in parallel in Kasitsna Bay, AK, USA, were compared for inter-sensor variability in order to quantify other factors contributing to SeaFETTM intrinsic inaccuracies. Based on our results, the multi-point calibration method provided the highest accuracy (< 0.025 difference in pH) of pH when compared against benchtop measurements. Spectral analysis of time series data showed that during spring in Alaskan waters, a range of tidal frequencies dominated pH variability, while seasonal oceanographic conditions were the dominant driver in Canadian waters. Further, it is suggested that spectral analysis performed on initial deployments may be able to act as an a posteriori method to better identify appropriate calibration regimes. Based on this evaluation, we provide a comprehensive assessment of the potential sources of uncertainty associated with accuracy and precision of the SeaFETTM electrodes.

Continue reading ‘An evaluation of the performance of Sea-Bird scientific’s autonomous SeaFETTM: considerations for the broader oceanographic community’

Coastal acidification: moving from a global problem to a coastal water- quality issue

Interactive presentation on coastal acidification and the Southeast Ocean and Coastal Acidification Network (SOCAN).

Leslie Wickes, Southeast Ocean and Coastal Acidification Network (SOCAN)
SECOORA/Thrive Blue, LLC

Dr. Janet Reimer, University of Delaware


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book