Physical and biological controls on the annual CO2 Cycle in Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Carlsbad, CA

Agua Hedionda Lagoon (AHL), a tidal estuary located on the southern California coast, supports a diverse ecosystem while serving numerous recreation activities, a marine fish hatchery, a shellfish hatchery, and the largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere. In this work, a 1-year time series of carbon dioxide data is used to establish baseline average dissolved inorganic carbon conditions in AHL. Based on a mass balance model of the outer basin of the lagoon, we propose that AHL is a source of inorganic carbon to the adjacent ocean, through advective export, at a rate of 5.9 × 106 mol C year−1, and a source of CO2 to the atmosphere of 0.21 × 106 mol C year−1 (1 mol C m−2 year−1), implying a net heterotrophic system on the order of 6.0 × 106 mol C year−1 (30 mol C m−2 year−1). Although variable with a range throughout the year of 80% about the mean, the ecosystem remained persistently heterotrophic, reaching peak rates during the summer season. Using results from the mass balance, the annual cycle of selected properties of the aqueous CO2 system (pH, pCO2, and CaCO3 saturation state) were mathematically decomposed in order to examine the relative contribution of drivers including advection, ecosystem metabolism, and temperature that act to balance their observed annual cycle. Important findings of this study include the identification of advection as a prime driver of biogeochemical variability and the establishment of a data-based estimate of mean flushing time for AHL.

Shipley K., Martz T., Hales B., Giddings N. S. & Andersson A., in press. Physical and Biological Controls on the Annual CO2 Cycle in Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Carlsbad, CA. Estuaries and Coasts. Article.

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