Two decades of ocean acidification in the surface waters of the Beaufort Gyre, Arctic Ocean: effects of sea ice melt and retreat from 1997‐2016

Anthropogenic CO2 uptake drives ocean acidification and so decreases the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) saturation state (Ω). Undersaturation of surface water with respect to aragonite‐type CaCO3 was first reported for 2008 in the Canada Basin, preceding other open ocean basins. This study reveals interannual variation of Ω in the surface Canada Basin before and after 2008. A rapid decrease of Ω occurred during 2003‐2007 at a rate of ‐0.09 yr‐1, 10 times faster than other open oceans. This was due to melting and retreat of sea ice, which diluted surface water and enhanced air‐sea CO2 exchange. After 2007, Ω did not further decrease, despite increasing atmospheric CO2 and continued sea ice retreat. A weakened dilution effect from sea‐ice melt and stabilized air‐sea CO2 disequilibrium state are the main reasons for this stabilization of Ω. Aragonite undersaturation has been observed for the last 11 years and aragonite shelled organisms may be threatened.

Zhang Y., Yamamoto‐Kawai M. & Williams W. J., in press. Two decades of ocean acidification in the surface waters of the Beaufort Gyre, Arctic Ocean: effects of sea ice melt and retreat from 1997‐2016. Geophysical Research Letters. Article (subscription required).

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