Mechanism-based deduction of subsurface aragonite saturation state in a semi-enclosed and seasonally stratified coastal sea

The North Yellow Sea is a semi-enclosed shallow-water marginal sea of the western North Pacific. Below the seasonal thermocline, subsurface aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) values of 1.0–1.5 have frequently been observed in summer and autumn, indicating that marine calcifying organisms in the area are under threat. In this study, we developed mechanism-based models relating summertime and autumnal subsurface Ωarag to seawater temperature, practical salinity (SP), dissolved oxygen and atmospheric CO2 concentration, taking into consideration the combined effects of atmospheric CO2 intrusion, metabolic CO2 increase, and region-specific water mixing modes. For the central offshore areas of the North Yellow Sea, we found that cold water mass Ωarag = 0.00885 × [(61.745 × SP + 320 17/138 × AOU) − (DICWinter + 106/138 × AOU)] + 0.46, where DICWinter is the air-equilibrated bottom-water dissolved inorganic carbon concentration at the beginning of the year, and AOU is the apparent oxygen utilization. In the southern area that was likely influenced by the adjacent Bohai Sea water, we found that nearshore subsurface Ωarag = 0.00939 × [(73.245 × SP – 17/138 × AOU) − (DICWinter + 106/138 × AOU)] + 0.53. Subsurface Ωarag values reconstructed from the two formulae are in general agreement with Ωarag values calculated from observed dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity values, with a standard deviation of 0.15 (n = 333). This is a successful attempt to reconstruct coastal subsurface Ωarag values from common hydrochemical data using mechanism-based models, and the approach may have applicability in similar coastal systems.

Li C.-L. & Zhai W.-D., in press. Mechanism-based deduction of subsurface aragonite saturation state in a semi-enclosed and seasonally stratified coastal sea. Marine Chemistry. Article (subscription required).

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