Long-term trends in pH in Japanese coastal waters

In recent decades, acidification of the open ocean has shown consistent increases. However, analysis of long-term data in coastal waters shows that the pH is highly variable because of coastal processes and anthropogenic carbon inputs. It is therefore important to understand how anthropogenic carbon inputs and other natural or anthropogenic factors influence the temporal trends in pH in coastal waters. Using water quality data collected at 1481 monitoring sites as part of the Water Pollution Control Program, we determined the long-term trends in pH in Japanese coastal waters at ambient temperature from 1978 to 2009. We found that pH decreased (i.e., acidification) at between 70 % and 75 % of the sites and increased (i.e., basification) at between 25 % and 30 % of the sites. The rate of decrease varied seasonally and was, on average, −0.0014 yr−1 in summer and −0.0024 yr−1 in winter, but with relatively large deviations from these average values. While the overall trends reflect acidification, watershed processes might also have contributed to the large variations in pH in coastal waters. The seasonal variation in the average pH trends reflects variability in warming trends, while regional differences in pH trends are partly related to heterotrophic water processes induced by nutrient loadings.

Ishizu M., Miyazawa Y., Tsunoda T. & Ono T., 2019. Long-term trends in pH in Japanese coastal waters. Biogeosciences Discussions. Article.

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