- In the Argentine Basin there is an increase in anthropogenic carbon at all depths.
- Acidification by carbon uptake is being enhanced by natural processes.
- The loss of carbonate affects upper and intermediate water masses: SACW, SAMW, AAIW
- The imminent carbonate undersaturation in AAIW is virtually unavoidable.
The chemical conditions of the Argentine Basin (western South Atlantic Ocean) water masses are evaluated with measurements from eleven hydrographic cruises to detect and quantify anthropogenic and natural stressors in the ocean carbon system. The database covers almost half-century (1972-2019), a time-span where the mean annual atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (CO2atm) increased from 325 to 408 parts per million of volume (ppm). This increase of atmospheric CO2 (83 ppm, the 64% of the total anthropogenic signal in the atmosphere) leads to an increase in anthropogenic carbon (Cant) across all the water column and the consequent ocean acidification: a decrease in excess carbonate that is unequivocal in the upper (South Atlantic Central Water, SACW) and intermediate water masses (Sub Antarctic Mode Water, SAMW and Antarctic Intermediate Water, AAIW). For each additional ppm in CO2atm the water masses SACW, SAMW and AAIW lose excess carbonate at a rate of 0.39±0.04, 0.47±0.05 and 0.23±0.03 μmol·kg-1·ppm-1 respectively. Modal and intermediate water masses in the Argentine Basin are very sensitive to carbon increases due low buffering capacity. The large rate of AAIW acidification is the synergic effect of carbon uptake combined with deoxygenation and increased remineralization of organic matter. If CO2 emissions follows the path of business-as-usual emissions (SSP 5.85), SACW would become undersaturated with respect to aragonite at the end of the century. The undersaturation in AAIW is virtually unavoidable.
Fontela M., Velo A., Gilcoto M. & Pérez F. F., in press. Anthropogenic CO2 and ocean acidification in Argentine Basin water masses over almost five decades of observations. Science of the Total Environment. Article.