Decadal trends in ocean acidification from the ocean weather station M in the Norwegian Sea

Highlight

  • pH of the Norwegian Sea surface has decreased significantly over the last two decades.
  • ocean acidification is affecting the full water column (0–2100 m).
  • the acidification is primarily due to uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • the area is a decreasing sink for atmospheric CO2.
  • the saturation horizon, which is currently around 2000 m depth, is shoaling.

Abstract

The Ocean Weather Station M (OWSM) is situated at a fixed position in the Norwegian Sea, one of the major basins of the Nordic Seas, which represents an important area for uptake of atmospheric CO2 as well as deep water formation. At OWSM, the inorganic carbon cycle has been regularly monitored since 2001, and significant interannual changes of the carbonate system have been determined. Data collected at this site since the 1990s have been included, and over the 28 last years the surface fugacity of CO2 (fCO2) has increased by 2.92 ± 0.37 μatm yr−1, while surface pH and aragonite saturation (ΩAr) have decreased by −0.0033 ± 0.0005 yr−1 and −0.018 ± 0.003 yr−1, respectively. This corresponds to a surface pH change of −0.092 over 28 years, which is comparable to the global mean pH decrease of −0.1 since the onset of the industrial revolution. Our estimates suggest that 80% of the surface pH trend at OWSM is driven by uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere. In the deepest layer, ΩAr has decreased significantly (−0.006 ± 0.001 yr−1) over the last 28 years, now occasionally reaching undersaturated values (ΩAr < 1). As a rough estimate, the saturation horizon has shoaled by 7 m yr−1 between 1994 and 2021. The increase in surface fCO2 is confirmed by semi-continuous measurements of CO2 from the site (2.69 ± 0.14 μatm yr−1), and thus, the area has become less of a net sink for atmospheric CO2, taking into consideration an atmospheric CO2 increase at OWSM of 2.27 ± 0.08 μatm yr−1.

Skjelvan I., Lauvset S. K., Johannessen T., Gundersen K., Skagseth Ø., in press. Decadal trends in ocean acidification from the ocean weather station M in the Norwegian Sea. Journal of Marine Systems. Article (subscription required).

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