Long-term trends in pH in Japanese coastal seawater

In recent decades, acidification of the open ocean has shown a consistent increase. However, analysis of long-term data in coastal seawater 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 seawater. Using water quality data collected at 289 monitoring sites as part of the Water Pollution Control Program, we evaluated the long-term trends of the pHinsitu in Japanese coastal seawater at ambient temperature from 1978 to 2009. We found that the annual maximum pHinsitu, which generally represents the pH of surface waters in winter, had decreased at 75 % of the sites but had increased at the remaining sites. The temporal trend in the annual minimum pHinsitu, which generally represents the pH of subsurface water in summer, also showed a similar distribution, although it was relatively difficult to interpret the trends of annual minimum pHinsitu because the sampling depths differed between the stations. The annual maximum pHinsitu decreased at an average rate of 0.0024 yr−1, with relatively large deviations (0.0042 yr−1) from the average value. Detailed analysis suggested that the decrease in pH was caused partly by warming of winter surface waters in Japanese coastal seawater. The pH, when normalized to 25 C, however, showed decreasing trends, suggesting that dissolved inorganic carbon from anthropogenic sources is increasing in Japanese coastal seawater.

Ishizu M., Miyazawa Y., Tsunoda T. & Ono T., 2019. Long-term trends in pH in Japanese coastal seawater. Biogeosciences 16: 4747–4763. Article

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