Time of emergence of surface ocean carbon dioxide trends in the North American coastal margins in support of ocean acidification observing system design

Time of Emergence (ToE) is the time when a signal emerges from the noise of natural variability. Commonly used in climate science for the detection of anthropogenic forcing, this concept has recently been applied to geochemical variables, to assess the emerging times of anthropogenic ocean acidification (OA), mostly in the open ocean using global climate and Earth System Models. Yet studies of OA variables are scarce within costal margins, due to limited multidecadal time-series observations of carbon parameters. ToE provides important information for decision making regarding the strategic configuration of observing assets, to ensure they are optimally positioned either for signal detection and/or process elicitation and to identify the most suitable variables in discerning OA-related changes. Herein, we present a short overview of ToE estimates on an OA variable, CO2 fugacity f(CO2,sw), in the North American ocean margins, using coastal data from the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT) V5. ToE suggests an average theoretical timeframe for an OA signal to emerge, of 23(±13) years, but with considerable spatial variability. Most coastal areas are experiencing additional secular and/or multi-decadal forcing(s) that modifies the OA signal, and such forcing may not be sufficiently resolved by current observations. We provide recommendations, which will help scientists and decision makers design and implement OA monitoring systems in the next decade, to address the objectives of OceanObs19 (http://www.oceanobs19.net) in support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) (https://en.unesco.org/ocean-decade) and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.3 (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg14) target to “Minimize and address the impacts of OA.”

Turk D., Wang H., Hu X., Gledhill D. K., Wang Z. A., Jiang L. & Cai W.-J., 2019. Time of emergence of surface ocean carbon dioxide trends in the North American coastal margins in support of ocean acidification observing system design. Frontiers in Marine Science 6: 91. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00091. Article.

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