Trends of ocean acidification and pCO2 in the northern North Sea, 2003‐2015

For continental shelf regions, the long‐term trend in sea surface carbon dioxide (CO2) partial pressure (pCO2) and rates of ocean acidification are not accurately known. Here, we investigate the decadal trend of observed wintertime pCO2 as well as computed wintertime pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωar) in the northern North Sea, using the first decade long monthly underway data from a Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) covering the period 2004‐2015. We also evaluate how seawater CO2 chemistry, in response to physical and biological processes, drives variations in the above parameters on seasonal and interannual timescales. In the northern North Sea, pCO2, pH, and Ωar are subject to strong seasonal variations with mean wintertime values of 375±11 μatm, 8.17±0.01, and 1.96±0.05. Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) is found to be the primary driver of both seasonal and interannual changes while total alkalinity (TA) and sea surface temperature (SST) have secondary effects that reduce the changes produced by DIC. Average interannual variations during winter are around 3%, 0.1% and 2% for pCO2, pH, and Ωar, respectively, and slightly larger in the eastern part of the study area (Skagerrak region) than in the western part (North Atlantic Water (NAW) region). Statistically significant long‐term trends were found only in the NAW region with mean annual rates of 2.39±0.58 μatm yr‐1, ‐0.0024±0.001 yr‐1, and ‐0.010±0.003 yr‐1for pCO2, pH and Ωar, respectively. The drivers of the observed trends as well as reasons for the lack of statistically significant trends in the Skagerrak region are discussed.

Omar A. M., Thomas H., Olsen A., Becker M., Skjelvan I. & Reverdin G., in press. Trends of ocean acidification and pCO2 in the northern North Sea, 2003‐2015. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. Article (subscription required).

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