Calcite and aragonite saturation levels of the Red Sea coastal waters of Yemen during early winter and expected pH decrease (acidification) effects

Seawater samples from different depths of eight stations along the Red Sea coast of Yemen were collected during early winter for the determinations of the temperature, salinity, pH value and total alkalinity profiles. The seawater surface temperature at 100 m) it ranged from 21.7 to 22.1 °C. The salinities were found to range from 36.32 to 37.36‰ at surface seawaters and from 40.27 to 40.35‰ at >100 m depths. The pH ranged from 7.983 to 8.198 at surface seawater and from 7.960 to 8.052 at deeper layers. The total alkalinities were found to range from 2.3268 to 3.6159 meq kg−1 at surface layers and from 2.4082 to 2.9659 meq kg−1 in seawater layers deeper than 100 m. The results showed that the surface seawater layers were several-fold supersaturated with respect to both calcite and aragonite, where the percent degree of saturation values ranged from 511 to 852% with respect to calcite and from 340 to 567% with respect to aragonite. At >100 m depth the percent degree of saturation ranged from 327% to 396% and from 221% to 268% with respect to calcite and aragonite, respectively. The results suggest that low magnesian calcite and aragonite are likely the major carbonate solid phases formed under current saturation levels. Recent studies show that the present oceanic pH values may drop by 0.1 and 0.4 units in 50 and 200 years, respectively. Thus, a projected change of −0.1 pH unit decreases the saturation levels to 426–710% for calcite and 283–473% for aragonite in surface waters and to 286–327% for calcite and 196–221% for aragonite at >100 m depth. A drop of −0.4 pH unit decreases the calcite saturation levels of surface and deep waters to 243–406% and 155–189%, respectively, whereas the saturation levels for aragonite reduce by 184–210% for surface waters and 105–120% for deep waters. These drops will affect the morphology and mineralogy of calcium carbon deposits as well as the distribution of calcifying organisms in the region. Further studies are warranted to investigate the occurrence, distribution and mineralogy of corals and the effects of physical and chemical parameters upon their growth in the region.

Rushdi A. I., El-Mubarak A. H., & Al-Mutlaq K. F., 2018. Calcite and aragonite saturation levels of the Red Sea coastal waters of Yemen during early winter and expected pH decrease (acidification) effects. In: Rasul N. & Stewart I. (Eds.), Oceanographic and Biological Aspects of the Red Sea, pp 171-183. Springer, Cham. Chapter (restricted access).

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