Contrasting drivers and trends of ocean acidification in the subarctic Atlantic

The processes of warming, anthropogenic CO2 (Canth) accumulation, decreasing pHT (increasing [H+]T; concentration in total scale) and calcium carbonate saturation in the subarctic zone of the North Atlantic are unequivocal in the time-series measurements of the Iceland (IS-TS, 1985–2003) and Irminger Sea (IRM-TS, 1983–2013) stations. Both stations show high rates of Canth accumulation with different rates of warming, salinification and stratification linked to regional circulation and dynamics. At the IS-TS, advected and stratified waters of Arctic origin drive a strong increase in [H+]T, in the surface layer, which is nearly halved in the deep layer (44.7 ± 3.6 and 25.5 ± 1.0 pmol kg−1 yr−1, respectively). In contrast, the weak stratification at the IRM-TS allows warming, salinification and Canth uptake to reach the deep layer. The acidification trends are even stronger in the deep layer than in the surface layer (44.2 ± 1.0 pmol kg−1 yr−1 and 32.6 ± 3.4 pmol kg−1 yr−1 of [H+]T, respectively). The driver analysis detects that warming contributes up to 50% to the increase in [H+]T at the IRM-TS but has a small positive effect on calcium carbonate saturation. The Canth increase is the main driver of the observed acidification, but it is partially dampened by the northward advection of water with a relatively low natural CO2 content.

Pérez F. F., Olafsson J., Ólafsdóttir S. R., Fontela M. & Takahashi T., 2021. Contrasting drivers and trends of ocean acidification in the subarctic Atlantic. Scientific Reports 11: 1399. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-93324-3. Article.

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