Archive for the 'Science' Category

Implementation and assessment of a carbonate system model (Eco3M-CarbOx v1.1) in a highly dynamic Mediterranean coastal site (Bay of Marseille, France)

A carbonate chemistry balance module was implemented into a biogeochemical model of the planktonic food web. The model, named Eco3M-CarbOx, includes 22 state variables that are dispatched into 5 compartments: phytoplankton, heterotrophic bacteria, detrital particulate organic matter, labile dissolved organic, and inorganic matter. This model is applied to and evaluated in the Bay of Marseille (BoM, France), which is a coastal zone impacted by the urbanized and industrialized Aix–Marseille Metropolis, and subject to significant increases in anthropogenic emissions of CO2. The model was evaluated over the year 2017, for which in situ data of the carbonate system are available in the study site. The biogeochemical state variables of the model only change with time, to represent the time evolution of a sea surface water cell in response to the implemented realistic forcing conditions. The model correctly simulates the value ranges and seasonal dynamics of most of the variables of the carbonate system except for the total alkalinity. Several numerical experiments were conducted to test the response of carbonate system to (i) a seawater temperature increase, (ii) wind events, (iii) Rhône River plume intrusions, and (iv) different levels of atmospheric CO2 contents. This set of numerical experiments shows that the Eco3M-CarbOx model provides expected responses in the alteration of the marine carbonate balance regarding each of the considered perturbation. When the seawater temperature changes quickly, the behavior of the BoM waters alters within a few days from a source of CO2 to the atmosphere to a sink into the ocean. Moreover, the higher the wind speed is, the higher the air–sea CO2 gas exchange fluxes are. The river intrusions with nitrate supplies lead to a decrease in the p CO2 value, favoring the conditions of a sink for atmospheric CO2 into the BoM. A scenario of high atmospheric concentrations of CO2 also favors the conditions of a sink for atmospheric CO2 into the waters of the BoM. Thus the model results suggest that external forcings have an important impact on the carbonate equilibrium in this coastal area.

Continue reading ‘Implementation and assessment of a carbonate system model (Eco3M-CarbOx v1.1) in a highly dynamic Mediterranean coastal site (Bay of Marseille, France)’

Long-term ocean acidification trends in coastal waters around Japan

This study examines long-term ocean pH data to evaluate ocean acidification (OA) trends at two coastal research institutions located on the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. These laboratories are located away from the influences of large rivers and major industrial activity. Measurements were performed daily for the past 30 years (1980s–2010s). The average annual ocean pH for both sites showed generally negative trends. These trends were – 0.0032 and – 0.0068 year–1 (p < 0.001) at the Sea of Japan and Pacific Ocean sites, respectively. The trends were superimposed onto approximately 10-year oscillations, which appear to synchronize with the ocean current periodicity. At the Sea of Japan site, the ocean pH in the summer was higher, and the rate of OA was higher than during other seasons. Our results suggest that seasonality and ocean currents influence OA in the coastal areas of open oceans and can affect the coastal regions of marginal seas.

Continue reading ‘Long-term ocean acidification trends in coastal waters around Japan’

Characterising mean and extreme diurnal variability of ocean CO2 system variables across marine environments

Diurnal variability of ocean CO2 system variables is poorly constrained. Here this variability and its drivers are assessed using 3‐hourly observations collected over 8‐140 months at 37 stations located in diverse marine environments. Extreme diurnal variability, i.e. when the daily amplitude exceeds the 99th percentile of diurnal variability, is comparable in magnitude to the seasonal amplitude and can surpass projected changes in mean states of pCO2 and [H+] over the twenty‐first century. At coastal sites and near coral reefs, extremes in diurnal amplitudes reach 187±85 and 149±106 μatm for pCO2, 0.21±0.08 and 0.11±0.07 for pH, and 1.2±0.5 and 0.8±0.4 for Ωarag, respectively. Extreme diurnal variability is weaker in the open ocean, but still reaches 47±18 μatm for pCO2, 0.04±0.01 for pH, and 0.25±0.11 for Ωarag. Diurnal variability of the ocean CO2 system is considerable and likely to respond to increasing CO2. Therefore, it should be represented in Earth system models.

Continue reading ‘Characterising mean and extreme diurnal variability of ocean CO2 system variables across marine environments’

The future is now: marine aquaculture in the anthropocene

Aquaculture now produces more seafood than wild capture fisheries and this production is expected to at least double by 2050. Representing almost half of global production, marine aquaculture will contribute to sustainably feeding the growing humanity. However, climate change will undoubtedly challenge the future growth of marine aquaculture. Temperature and sea-level rise, shifts in precipitation, freshening from glacier melt, changing ocean productivity, and circulation patterns, increasing occurrence of extreme climatic events, eutrophication, and ocean acidification are all stressors that will influence marine aquaculture. The objective of this themed article set was to bring together contributions on the broad theme of the potential impacts, adaptation, and mitigation strategies of marine aquaculture to climate change. Here we present 14 papers covering a diverse set of approaches including experimentation, modelling, meta-analysis and review, and disciplines like biology, ecology, economics, and engineering. These articles focus on the impacts of climate change-related stressors on the aquaculture potential itself and on the resulting ecological interactions (e.g. parasitism and predation), on phenotypic plasticity and adaptation potential of species, and on measures to mitigate the effects of climate change on aquaculture and vice versa. Considering this, adaptation of the aquaculture sector relies on anticipating the biogeographical changes in the distribution of species, determining their potential for adaptation and selective breeding for resistance or tolerance to climate-induced stressors, and fostering ecosystem resilience by means of conservation, restoration, or remediation. By will or by force, aquaculture will contribute to the low carbon economy of tomorrow. Aquaculture must move towards a new paradigm where the carbon footprint and the analysis of the life cycle of products are at least as important as economic profitability.

Continue reading ‘The future is now: marine aquaculture in the anthropocene’

Reduced seawater pH alters marine biofilms with impacts for marine polychaete larval settlement


• Reduced seawater pH strongly influences biofilm community composition, at both eukaryotic and prokaryotic level

• For older biofilms, biofilm age plays no role in community composition

• Incubation under different pH treatments results in variations in apparent colour and structural complexity of marine biofilms

• Incubation of marine biofilms under different pH treatments alters the settlement response in marine invertebrates

• The changes in marine biofilm community composition induced by seawater pH are most likely responsible for the changes observed in invertebrate settlement selectivity


Ocean acidification (OA) can negatively affect early-life stages of marine organisms, with the key processes of larval settlement and metamorphosis potentially vulnerable to reduced seawater pH. Settlement success depends strongly on suitable substrates and environmental cues, with marine biofilms as key settlement inducers for a range of marine invertebrate larvae. This study experimentally investigated (1) how seawater pH determines growth and community composition of marine biofilms, and (2) whether marine biofilms developed under different pH conditions can alter settlement success in the New Zealand serpulid polychaete Galeolaria hystrix. Biofilms were developed under six pH(T) treatments (spanning from 7.0 to 8.1 [ambient]) in a flow-through system for up to 14 months. Biofilms of different ages (7, 10 and 14 months) were used to assay successful settlement of competent G. hystrix larvae reared under ambient conditions. Biofilm microbiomes were characterized through amplicon sequencing of the small subunit ribosomal rRNA gene (16S and 18S). Biofilm community composition was stable over time within each pH treatment and biofilm age did not affect larval settlement selectivity. Seawater pH treatment strongly influenced biofilm community composition, as well as subsequent settlement success when biofilms were presented to competent Galeolaria larvae. Exposure to biofilms incubated under OA-treatments caused a decrease in larval settlement of up to 40% compared to the ambient treatments. We observed a decrease in settlement on biofilms relative to ambient pH for slides incubated at pH 7.9 and 7.7. This trend was reversed at pH 7.4, resulting in high settlement, comparable to ambient biofilms. Settlement decreased on biofilms from pH 7.2, and no settlement was observed on biofilms from pH 7.0. For the first time, we show that long-term incubation of marine biofilms under a wide range of reduced seawater pH treatments can alter marine biofilms in such a way that settlement success in marine invertebrates can be compromised.

Continue reading ‘Reduced seawater pH alters marine biofilms with impacts for marine polychaete larval settlement’

Effects of ocean acidification on calcification of the sub-Antarctic pteropod Limacina retroversa

Ocean acidification is expected to impact the high latitude oceans first, as CO2 dissolves more easily in colder waters. At the current rate of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, the sub-Antarctic Zone will start to experience undersaturated conditions with respect to aragonite within the next few decades, which will affect marine calcifying organisms. Shelled pteropods, a group of calcifying zooplankton, are considered to be especially sensitive to changes in carbonate chemistry because of their thin aragonite shells. Limacina retroversa is the most abundant pteropod in sub-Antarctic waters, and plays an important role in the carbonate pump. However, not much is known about its response to ocean acidification. In this study, we investigated differences in calcification between L. retroversa individuals exposed to ocean carbonate chemistry conditions of the past (pH 8.19; mid-1880s), present (pH 8.06), and near-future (pH 7.93; predicted for 2050) in the sub-Antarctic. After 3 days of exposure, calcification responses were quantified by calcein staining, shell weighing, and Micro-CT scanning. In pteropods exposed to past conditions, calcification occurred over the entire shell and the leading edge of the last whorl, whilst individuals incubated under present and near-future conditions mostly invested in extending their shells, rather than calcifying over their entire shell. Moreover, individuals exposed to past conditions formed larger shell volumes compared to present and future conditions, suggesting that calcification is already decreased in today’s sub-Antarctic waters. Shells of individuals incubated under near-future conditions did not increase in shell weight during the incubation, and had a lower density compared to past and present conditions, suggesting that calcification will be further compromised in the future. This demonstrates the high sensitivity of L. retroversa to relatively small and short-term changes in carbonate chemistry. A reduction in calcification of L. retroversa in the rapidly acidifying waters of the sub-Antarctic will have a major impact on aragonite-CaCO3 export from oceanic surface waters to the deep sea.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on calcification of the sub-Antarctic pteropod Limacina retroversa’

New version of the R package seacarb available

The R package seacarb calculates parameters of the seawater carbonate system and includes functions useful for ocean acidification research. It has just been updated to v3.2.16. It is recommended to use this version rather than any of the earlier ones. The new or updated functions are listed below; the seacarb Change Log provides more details:

Update: all functions using K1 and K2 now provide the additional formulation of Shockman & Byrne (2021) to calculate these constants.

Schockman K.M. & Byrne, R.H., Spectrophotometric Determination of the Bicarbonate Dissociation Constant in Seawater, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2021), doi:

Continue reading ‘New version of the R package seacarb available’

Calcifying phytoplankton demonstrate an enhanced role in greenhouse atmospheric CO2 regulation

The impact of calcifying phytoplankton on atmospheric CO2 concentration is determined by a number of factors, including their degree of ecological success as well as the buffering capacity of the ocean/marine sediment system. The relative importance of these factors has changed over Earth’s history and this has implications for atmospheric CO2 and climate regulation. We explore some of these implications with four “Strangelove” experiments: two in which soft-tissue production and calcification is stopped, and two in which only calcite production is forced to stop, in idealized icehouse and greenhouse climates. We find that in the icehouse climate the loss of calcifiers compensates the atmospheric CO2 impact of the loss of all phytoplankton by roughly one-sixth. But in the greenhouse climate the loss of calcifiers compensates the loss of all phytoplankton by about half. This increased impact on atmospheric CO2 concentration is due to the combination of higher rates of pelagic calcification due to warmer temperatures and weaker buffering due to widespread acidification in the greenhouse ocean. However, the greenhouse atmospheric temperature response per unit of CO2 change to removing ocean soft-tissue production and calcification is only one-fourth that in an icehouse climate, owing to the logarithmic radiative forcing dependency on atmospheric CO2 thereby reducing the climate feedback of mass extinction. This decoupling of carbon cycle and temperature sensitivities offers a mechanism to explain the dichotomy of both enhanced climate stability and destabilization of the carbonate compensation depth in greenhouse climates.

Continue reading ‘Calcifying phytoplankton demonstrate an enhanced role in greenhouse atmospheric CO2 regulation’

Interactive effects of elevated CO2 concentration and light on the picophytoplankton Synechococcus

Synechococcus is a major contributor to the primary production in tropic and subtropical oceans worldwide. Responses of this picophytoplankton to changing light and CO2 levels is of general concern to understand its ecophysiology in the context of ocean global changes. We grew Synechococcus sp. (WH7803), originally isolated from subtropic North Atlantic Ocean, under different PAR levels for about 15 generations and examined its growth, photochemical performance and the response of these parameters to elevated CO2 (1,000 μatm). The specific growth rate increased from 6 μmol m–2 s–1 to reach a maximum (0.547 ± 0.026) at 25 μmol m–2 s–1, and then became inhibited at PAR levels over 50 μmol m–2 s–1, with light use efficiency (α) and photoinhibition coefficient (β) being 0.093 and 0.002, respectively. When the cells were grown at ambient and elevated CO2 concentration (400 vs. 1,000 μatm), the high-CO2 grown cells showed significantly enhanced rates of electron transport and quantum yield as well as significant increase in specific growth rate at the limiting and inhibiting PAR levels. While the electron transport rate significantly increased at the elevated CO2 concentration under all tested light levels, the specific growth did not exhibit significant changes under the optimal growth light condition. Our results indicate that Synechococcus WH7803 grew faster under the ocean acidification (OA) treatment induced by CO2 enrichment only under limiting and inhibiting light levels, indicating the interactive effects and implying that the picophytoplankton respond differentially at different depths while exposing changing light conditions.

Continue reading ‘Interactive effects of elevated CO2 concentration and light on the picophytoplankton Synechococcus’

Removing carbon dioxide through ocean alkalinity enhancement and seaweed cultivation: legal challenges and opportunities

Scientists increasingly agree that carbon dioxide removal will be needed, alongside deep emissions cuts, to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A wide variety of technologies and strategies have been proposed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To date, most research has focused on terrestrial-based approaches, but they often have large land requirements, and may present other risks and challenges. As such, there is growing interest in using the oceans, which have already absorbed more than a quarter of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, and could become an even larger carbon sink in the future.

This paper explores two ocean-based carbon dioxide removal strategies—ocean alkalinity enhancement and seaweed cultivation. Ocean alkalinity enhancement involves adding alkalinity to ocean waters, either by discharging alkaline rocks or through an electrochemical process, which increases ocean pH levels and thereby enables greater uptake of carbon dioxide, as well as reducing the adverse impacts of ocean acidification. Seaweed cultivation involves the growing of kelp and other macroalgae to store carbon in biomass, which can then either be used to replace more greenhouse gas-intensive products or sequestered.

Continue reading ‘Removing carbon dioxide through ocean alkalinity enhancement and seaweed cultivation: legal challenges and opportunities’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book