Global synthesis of the status and trends of ocean acidification impacts on shelled pteropods

The accumulation of anthropogenic CO₂ in the ocean has major ecological, socioeconomic, and biogeochemical impacts, with repercussions for the ocean as a critical carbon sink. Ocean acidification (OA) disproportionately affects marine calcifiers, among which pelagic zooplanktonic pteropods play a significant role in carbonate export. The pteropod, due to the susceptibility of its aragonite shell to rapid dissolution, is one of most vulnerable groups and a key indicator for OA regional monitoring, but its regional sensitivities have not yet been extrapolated over global scales. To delineate spatial and temporal changes in pteropod shell dissolution, global OA status and the OA rate of change were evaluated, based on gridded climatologies of observations and using a Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) biogeochemical/ecosystem model. Pteropods, which dominate in the polar and subpolar regions, are characterized by low aragonite saturation state and low buffering capacity, where extended pteropod subsurface dissolution is projected. We show that pteropods are most susceptible to OA in the polar regions, subpolar North Pacific, and eastern boundary upwelling system regions, particularly the California and Humboldt Current Systems. Rates of acidification and corresponding increases in pteropod shell dissolution are projected to be the fastest in the North and South Equatorial Currents. These are the regions with the greatest impacts on pteropods and biogeochemical implications.

Bednaršek N., Feely A. R., Greg Pelletier G. & Desmet F., 2023. Global synthesis of the status and trends of ocean acidification impacts on shelled pteropods. Oceanography 36(2/3): 130-137. Article.

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