Archive for the 'Science' Category

Evaluating the sensor-equipped autonomous surface vehicle C-Worker 4 as a tool for identifying coastal ocean acidification and changes in carbonate chemistry

The interface between land and sea is a key environment for biogeochemical carbon cycling, yet these dynamic environments are traditionally under sampled. Logistical limitations have historically precluded a comprehensive understanding of coastal zone processes, including ocean acidification. Using sensors on autonomous platforms is a promising approach to enhance data collection in these environments. Here, we evaluate the use of an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV), the C-Worker 4 (CW4), equipped with pH and pCO2 sensors and with the capacity to mount additional sensors for up to 10 other parameters, for the collection of high-resolution data in shallow coastal environments. We deployed the CW4 on two occasions in Belizean coastal waters for 2.5 and 4 days, demonstrating its capability for high-resolution spatial mapping of surface coastal biogeochemistry. This enabled the characterisation of small-scale variability and the identification of sources of low pH/high pCO2 waters as well as identifying potential controls on coastal pH. We demonstrated the capabilities of the CW4 in both pre-planned “autonomous” mission mode and remote “manually” operated mode. After documenting platform behaviour, we provide recommendations for further usage, such as the ideal mode of operation for better quality pH data, e.g., using constant speed. The CW4 has a high power supply capacity, which permits the deployment of multiple sensors sampling concurrently, a shallow draught, and is highly controllable and manoeuvrable. This makes it a highly suitable tool for observing and characterising the carbonate system alongside identifying potential drivers and controls in shallow coastal regions.

Continue reading ‘Evaluating the sensor-equipped autonomous surface vehicle C-Worker 4 as a tool for identifying coastal ocean acidification and changes in carbonate chemistry’

Autonomous minisubmarine measures seawater conditions

Forecasts of carbonate chemistry in coastal ecosystems determined from seasonal robotic measurements can improve fisheries management and help mitigate short-term ocean acidification events.

A yellow submarine glider floats on the ocean surface.
A Slocum glider operated by Rutgers University is deployed off the coast of New Jersey. Underwater gliders equipped with sensors provide live data that help scientists understand in real time how acidity is changing in Earth’s oceans. Credit: Liza Wright-Fairbanks, Rutgers University

Since the Industrial Revolution began in the mid-18th century, Earth’s oceans have absorbed about one third of the carbon dioxide emitted through human activities. The ensuing roughly 30% increase in ocean acidity has reduced the amount of carbonate available for calcifying organisms such as corals and oysters to construct their skeletons and shells. As ocean acidity continues to climb, these biological structures could begin to dissolve or cost organisms extra energy to maintain, potentially disrupting marine food webs.

Continue reading ‘Autonomous minisubmarine measures seawater conditions’

State legislation on ocean & coastal acidification webinar (video)

March 19, 2020, from 2pm – 4 pm Eastern

Holly GalavottiU.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Mike MolnarCoastal States OrganizationJustine KimballPh.D, Senior Program Manager, California Ocean Protection CouncilCaren Braby, Marine Resources Program Manager, Oregon Department of Fish and WildlifeDonald WitherillDirector, Division of Environmental Assessment, Maine Department of Environmental Protection

Summary: Ocean and coastal acidification threatens marine ecosystems and the coastal communities that rely on them. The U.S. EPA’s Ocean and Coastal Acidification Program promotes awareness and conducts research and long-term monitoring to mitigate impacts of acidification and develop solutions. States play a critical role in guarding their coastlines against local causes of acidification.

Hear from three states who have successfully enacted state legislation on ocean and coastal acidification as they share their experience and discuss actions that have been implemented to address acidification in their state.

Flyer for the State Legislation on Ocean & Coastal Acidification Webinar

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DNA damage and oxidative stress responses of mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis to paralytic shellfish toxins under warming and acidification conditions – elucidation on the organ-specificity

Commonly affected by changes in climate and environmental conditions, coastal areas are very dynamic environments where shellfish play an important ecological role. In this study, the oxidative stress and genotoxic responses of mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) exposed to paralytic shellfish toxin (PST) – producing dinoflagellates Gymnodinium catenatum were evaluated under i) current conditions (CC: 19 °C; pH 8.0), ii) warming (W: 24 °C; pH 8.0), iii) acidification (A:19 °C; pH 7.6) and iv) combined effect of warming and acidification (WA: 24 °C; pH 7.6). Mussels were fed with G. catenatum for 5 days, and to a non-toxic diet during the following 10 days. A battery of oxidative stress biomarkers and comet assay was performed at the peak of toxin accumulation and at the end of the post-exposure phase. Under CC, gills and hepatopancreas displayed different responses/vulnerabilities and mechanisms to cope with PST. While gills presented a tendency for lipid peroxidation (LPO) and genetic damage (expressed by the Genetic Damage Indicator – GDI), hepatopancreas seems to better cope with the toxins, as no LPO was observed. However, the mechanisms involved in hepatopancreas protection were not enough to maintain DNA integrity. The absence of LPO, and the antioxidant system low responsiveness, suggests DNA damage was not oxidative. When exposed to toxic algae under W, toxin-modulated antioxidant responses were observed in both gills and hepatopancreas. Simultaneous exposure to the stressors highlighted gills susceptibility with a synergistic interaction increasing DNA damage. Exposure to toxic algae under A led to genotoxicity potentiation in both organs. The combined effect of WA did not cause relevant interactions in gills antioxidant responses, but stressors interactions impacted LPO and GDI. Antioxidant responses and LPO pointed out to be modulated by the environmental conditions in hepatopancreas, while GDI results support the dominance of toxin-triggered process. Overall, these results reveal that simultaneous exposure to warming, acidification and PSTs impairs mussel DNA integrity, compromising the genetic information due to the synergetic effects. Finally, this study highlights the increasing ecological risk of harmful algal blooms to Mytilus galloprovinciallis populations.

Continue reading ‘DNA damage and oxidative stress responses of mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis to paralytic shellfish toxins under warming and acidification conditions – elucidation on the organ-specificity’

Assessing coral reef condition indicators for local and global stressors using Bayesian networks

Coral reefs are highly valued ecosystems currently threatened by both local and global stressors. Given the importance of coral reef ecosystems, a Bayesian network approach can benefit an evaluation of threats to reef condition. To this end, we used data to evaluate the overlap between local stressors (overfishing and destructive fishing, watershed‐based pollution, marine‐based pollution, and coastal development threats), global stressors (acidification and thermal stress) and management effectiveness with indicators of coral reef health (live coral index, live coral cover, population bleaching, colony bleaching and recently killed corals). Each of the coral health indicators had Bayesian networks constructed globally and for Pacific, Atlantic, Australia, Middle East, Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia coral reef locations. Sensitivity analysis helped evaluate the strength of the relationships between different stressors and reef condition indicators. The relationships between indicators and stressors were also evaluated with conditional analyses of linear and nonlinear interactions. In this process, a standardized direct effects analysis was emphasized with a target mean analysis to predict changes in the mean value of the reef indicator from individual changes to the distribution of the predictor variables. The standardized direct effects analysis identified higher risks in the Middle East for watershed‐based pollution with population bleaching and Australia for overfishing and destructive fishing with living coral. For thermal stress, colony bleaching and recently killed coral in the Indian Ocean were found to have the strongest direct associations. For acidification threat, Australia had a relatively strong association with colony bleaching and the Middle East had the strongest overall association with recently killed coral although extrapolated spatial data were used for the acidification estimates. The Bayesian network approach helped to explore the relationships among existing databases used for policy development in coral reef management by examining the sensitivity of multiple indicators of reef condition to spatially‐distributed stress.

Continue reading ‘Assessing coral reef condition indicators for local and global stressors using Bayesian networks’

Retrieving monthly and interannual total-scale pH (pHT) on theEast China Sea shelf using an artificial neural network:ANN-pHT-v1 (update)

While our understanding of pH dynamics has strongly progressed for open-ocean regions, for marginal seas such as the East China Sea (ECS) shelf progress has been constrained by limited observations and complex interactions between biological, physical and chemical processes. Seawater pH is a very valuable oceanographic variable but not always measured using high-quality instrumentation and according to standard practices. In order to predict total-scale pH (pH(T)) and enhance our understanding of the seasonal variability of pHT on the ECS shelf, an artificial neural network (ANN) model was developed using 11 cruise datasets from 2013 to 2017 with coincident observations of pHT, temperature (T), salinity (S), dissolved oxygen (DO), nitrate (N), phosphate (P) and silicate (Si) together with sampling position and time. The reliability of the ANN model was evaluated using independent observations from three cruises in 2018, and it showed a root mean square error accuracy of 0.04. The ANN model responded to T and DO errors in a positive way and S errors in a negative way, and the ANN model was most sensitive to S errors, followed by DO and T errors. Monthly water column pHT for the period 2000-2016 was retrieved using T, S, DO, N, P and Si from the Changjiang biology Finite-Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM). The agreement is good here in winter, while the reduced performance in summer can be attributed in large part to limitations of the Changjiang biology FVCOM in simulating summertime input variables.

Continue reading ‘Retrieving monthly and interannual total-scale pH (pHT) on theEast China Sea shelf using an artificial neural network:ANN-pHT-v1 (update)’

Resilience of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula to ocean acidification extends to the physiological level

Both juvenile and adult life stages of the temperate scleractinian coral Oculina arbuscula are resilient to the effects of moderate ocean acidification (OA) in contrast to many tropical corals in which growth and calcification rates are suppressed. Here, potential mechanisms of resilience to OA related to photosynthetic physiology and inorganic carbon processing were studied in adult O. arbuscula colonies. After exposing colonies to ambient and elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) treatments for 7 weeks, photosynthetic performance was characterized using photosynthesis versus irradiance experiments, chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics, and algal pigment content. Inorganic carbon-processing capabilities were assessed by measurement of internal and external carbonic anhydrase activity of the coral host, internal carbonic anhydrase activity of symbiotic algae, and the reliance of photosynthesis on external carbonic anhydrase. Photosynthetic physiology was unaffected by OA ruling out the possibility that resilience was mediated by increased photosynthetic energy supply. Carbonic anhydrase activities were maintained at elevated CO2 suggesting no major rearrangements of the inorganic carbon-processing machinery, but this could be a sign of resilience since tropical corals often down-regulate carbonic anhydrases at high CO2. The general lack of effect of ocean acidification on these physiological traits suggests other characteristics, such as maintenance of calcifying fluid pH and ability to acquire energy from heterotrophy, may be more important for the resilience of O. arbuscula to OA.

Continue reading ‘Resilience of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula to ocean acidification extends to the physiological level’

Global trends of ocean CO2 sink and ocean acidification: an observation-based reconstruction of surface ocean inorganic carbon variables

Ocean acidification is likely to impact marine ecosystems and human societies adversely and is a carbon cycle issue of great concern. Projecting the degree of ocean acidification and the carbon-climate feedback will require understanding the current status, variability, and trends of ocean inorganic carbon system variables and the ocean carbon sink. With this goal in mind, we reconstructed total alkalinity (TA), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), CO2 partial pressure (pCO2sea), sea–air CO2 flux, pH, and aragonite saturation state (Ωarg) for the global ocean based on measurements of pCO2sea and TA. We used a multiple linear regression approach to derive relationships to explain TA and DIC and obtained monthly 1° × 1° gridded values of TA and DIC for the period 1993–2018. These data were converted to pCO2sea, pH, and Ωarg, and monthly sea-air CO2 fluxes were obtained in combination with atmospheric CO2. Mean annual sea–air CO2 flux and its rate of change were estimated to be − 2.0 ± 0.5 PgC year−1 and − 0.3 (PgC year−1) decade−1, respectively. Our analysis revealed that oceanic CO2 uptake decreased during the 1990s and has been increasing since 2000. Our estimate of the globally averaged rate of pH change, − 0.0181 ± 0.0001 decade−1, was consistent with that expected from the trend of atmospheric CO2 growth. However, rates of decline of pH were relatively slow in the Southern Ocean (− 0.0165 ± 0.0001·decade−1) and in the western equatorial Pacific (− 0.0148 ± 0.0002·decade−1). Our estimate of the globally averaged rate of pH change can be used to verify Indicator 14.3.1 of Sustainable Development Goals.

Continue reading ‘Global trends of ocean CO2 sink and ocean acidification: an observation-based reconstruction of surface ocean inorganic carbon variables’

Estuarine conditions more than pH modulate the physiological flexibility of mussel Perumytilus purpuratus populations

Highlights

  • Living under estuarine conditions causes physiological stress.
  • Estuarine conditions more than pH modulated the mussel performance and phenotypic plasticity.
  • Environmental variability of the habitat determines the phenotypic plasticity.
  • Environmental conditions of native habitats define the sensibility to climate change stressors.

Abstract

Coasts and their marine biota are exposed to major environmental heterogeneity as a consequence of natural drivers and anthropogenic stressors. Here, individuals of the mussel Perumytilus purpuratus from two different geographical populations exposed to contrasting environmental conditions (i.e. estuarine versus open coastal conditions) were used in a reciprocal transplant and a laboratory experiment in order to differential levels of local adaptation to their native sites, and sensibility to ocean acidification. After characterizing environmentally the two study sites, a set of life-history traits, as well as an estimated of the level of phenotypic plasticity were determined for both mussel populations. From the reciprocal transplant experiment, we observed that mussels originally coming from the estuarine habitat exhibited a distinctive performance pattern usually associated to physiological stress (i.e. higher metabolic rates, lower calcification and growth rates) leading also to important physiological trade-offs, and higher levels of phenotypic plasticity. Alternatively, mussels originating from the open coastal site showed lower physiological phenotypic plasticity suggesting a high grade of local adaptation. Contrary to expected, both populations responded very similar to lower pH conditions (i.e. increased metabolic rates with no important effects on growth and calcification, and lower physiological phenotypic plasticity). The study results indicated that overall estuarine conditions more than isolated pH would be modulating the performance and the level of phenotypic plasticity of the different P. purpuratus geographical populations studied. Our study also emphasizes the necessity of characterizing phenotypic plasticity under multiple-driver environments in order to cast more accurate predictions about the susceptibility of marine biota to future climate stressors such as the ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Estuarine conditions more than pH modulate the physiological flexibility of mussel Perumytilus purpuratus populations’

Impact of temperature increase and acidification on growth and the reproductive potential of the clam Ruditapes philippinarum using DEB

Highlights

  • A simulation model based on DEB theory was parameterized for the Manila clam.
  • The pH forecast in 2100 will limit the growth of Manila clam.
  • The temperature forecast in 2100 enhances the reproductive potential of Manila clam.

Abstract

We built a simulation model based on Dynamic Energy Budget theory (DEB) to assess the growth and reproductive potential of the Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum under different temperature and pH conditions, based on environmental values forecasted for the end of the 21st c. under climate change scenarios. The parameters of the DEB model were calibrated with the results of seasonal growth experiments under two levels of temperature (ambient and plus 2–3 °C) and three levels of pH (8.1 used as control and 7.7 and 7.3 representing acidification). The results showed that R. philippinarum is expected to have moderate growth in length or individual body mass (ultimate length and body weight would be larger than current values by 2–3%) when taking into account only the effect of temperature increase. However, acidification is likely to have a deleterious effect on growth, with a decrease of 2–5% length or body weight under the pH value of 7.7 forecasted for the end of the 21st c, or 10–15% under a more extreme scenario (pH = 7.3). However, the aggregated reproductive potential, integrated along a lifetime of 10 years, is likely to increase by 30% with temperature increase. Decreasing pH would impact negatively on reproductive potential, but in all simulations under warmer conditions, reproductive potential values were higher than current, suggesting that temperature increase would compensate losses due to acidification. The results are discussed in relation to their possible impact on aquaculture and fisheries of this important commercial bivalve.

Continue reading ‘Impact of temperature increase and acidification on growth and the reproductive potential of the clam Ruditapes philippinarum using DEB’

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