Reduced CaCO3 flux to the seafloor and weaker bottom current speeds curtail benthic CaCO3 dissolution over the 21st century

Results from a range of Earth System and climate models of various resolution run under high‐CO2 emission scenarios challenge the paradigm that seafloor CaCO3 dissolution will grow in extent and intensify as ocean acidification develops over the next century. Under the “business as usual,” RCP8.5 scenario, CaCO3 dissolution increases in some areas of the deep ocean, such as the eastern central Pacific Ocean, but is projected to decrease in the Northern Pacific and abyssal Atlantic Ocean by the year 2100. The flux of CaCO3 to the seafloor and bottom‐current speeds, both of which are expected to decrease globally through the 21st century, govern changes in benthic CaCO3 dissolution rates over 53% and 31% of the dissolving seafloor, respectively. Below the calcite compensation depth, a reduced CaCO3 flux to the CaCO3‐free seabed modulates the amount of CaCO3 material dissolved at the sediment‐water interface. Slower bottom‐water circulation leads to thicker diffusive boundary layers above the sediment bed and a consequent stronger transport barrier to CaCO3 dissolution. While all investigated models predict a weakening of bottom current speeds over most of the seafloor by the end of the 21st century, strong discrepancies exist in the magnitude of the predicted speeds. Overall, the poor performance of most models in reproducing modern bottom‐water velocities and CaCO3 rain rates coupled with the existence of large disparities in predicted bottom‐water chemistry across models hampers our ability to robustly estimate the magnitude and temporal evolution of anthropogenic CaCO3 dissolution rates and the associated anthropogenic CO2 neutralization.

Sulpis O., Dufour C. O., Trossman D. S., Fassbender A. J., Arbic B. K., Boudreau B. P., Dunne J. P. & Mucci A., in press. Reduced CaCO3 flux to the seafloor and weaker bottom current speeds curtail benthic CaCO3 dissolution over the 21st century. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Article (subscription required).

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