Short-term variation of pH in seawaters around coastal areas of Japan: characteristics and forcings

The pH of coastal seawater varies based on several local forcings, such as water circulation, terrestrial inputs, and biological processes, and these forcings can change along with global climate change. Understanding the mechanism of pH variation in each coastal area is thus important for a realistic future projection that considers changes in these forcings. From 2020 to 2021, we performed parallel year-round observations of pH and related ocean parameters at five stations around the Japanese coast (Miyako Bay, Shizugawa Bay, Kashiwazaki Coast, Hinase Archipelago, and Ohno Strait) to understand the characteristics of short-term pH variations and their forcings. Annual variability (~1 standard deviation) of pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωara) were 0.05–0.09 and 0.25–0.29, respectively, for three areas with low anthropogenic loadings (Miyako Bay, Kashiwazaki Coast, and Shizugawa Bay), while it increased to 0.16–0.21 and 0.52–0.58, respectively, in two areas with medium anthropogenic loadings (Hinase Archipelago and Ohno Strait in Seto Inland Sea). Statistical assessment of temporal variability at various timescales revealed that most of the annual variabilities in both pH and Ωara were derived by short-term variation at a timescale of < 10 days, rather than seasonal-scale variation. Our analyses further illustrated that most of the short-term pH variation was caused by biological processes, while both thermodynamic and biological processes equally contributed to the temporal variation in Ωara. The observed results showed that short-term acidification with Ωara < 1.5 occurred occasionally in Miyako and Shizugawa Bays, while it occurred frequently in the Hinase Archipelago and Ohno Strait. Most of such short-term acidified events were related to short-term low-salinity events. Our analyses showed that the amplitude of short-term pH variation was linearly correlated with that of short-term salinity variation, and its regression coefficient at the time of high freshwater input was positively correlated with the nutrient concentration of the main river that flows into the coastal area.

Ono T., Muraoka D., Hayashi M., Yorifuji M., Dazai A., Omoto S., Tanaka T., Okamura T., Onitsuka G., Sudo K., Fujii M., Hamanoue R. & Wakita M., 2023. Short-term variation of pH in seawaters around coastal areas of Japan: characteristics and forcings. Biogeosciences Discussions. Article.

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