Archive for the 'Science' Category

Combined effects of short term exposure to seawater acidification and microplastics on the early development of the oyster Crassostrea rivularis


  • OA and MPs increased the deformation rate of C. rivularis spawn.
  • OA and MPs impaired the shell development of the C. rivularis larvae.
  • The moderate concentration of MPs exposure induced the increase of ALP.
  • The oyster larva has filter selectivity to reduce the microplastics intake.


Ocean acidification and microplastics pollution are two consequences of anthropogenic activities. In regions such as estuarine areas, ocean acidification (OA) and microplastics (MPs) pollution are occurring simultaneously. The present study tested the combined effects of OA and MPs on the embryonic development and physiological response of the larval oyster Crassostrea rivularis in a short exposure duration. The fertilization process was exposed to six combinations of three MPs levels (0, 10 and 1000 items L−1) × two pH levels (7.3, 8.1) for 9 d after hatching. As a result, the hatching rate was not affected by either pH reduction or MPs exposure, while the deformation rate increased under low pH, MPs exposure and their combination. Larval shell length was reduced under low pH, MPs exposure and the combined exposure of the two factors. Furthermore, swimming speed decreased under low pH throughout the experiment but the MPs effect was limited. Predictably, MPs in the body increased with the increase of MPs concentration. Compared to low pH, the oyster ingested more MPs under normal pH. But combined OA and MPs didn’t affect the MPs intake. Moreover, no significant effects of OA and MPs on total antioxidant capacity and malondialdehyde were observed. However, alkaline phosphatase was significantly affected by low pH and MPs exposure independently. PCA showed that development of C. rivularis larvae changed over time and MPs concentration increase augmented intake of MPs by oysters. Consequently, we speculate that OA and MPs exposure may harm oyster C. rivularis embryonic and larval development, but not induce their antioxidant response in a short duration. Long term study about combined effects of OA and MPs on C. rivularis development is needed in the future.

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Buffered accelerated weathering of limestone for storing CO2: chemical background


  • A method to store permanently CO2 in seawater in form of bicarbonates is discussed.
  • The method is an evolution of the Accelerated Weathering of Limestone (AWL).
  • Ca(OH)2 is added to buffer the unreacted CO2 before the discharge in seawater.
  • BAWL overcomes the main limitations of AWL and buffers ocean acidification.
  • A preliminary storage cost is 100 € per tonne of CO2 coming from an external source.


We present an evolution of the Accelerated Weathering of Limestone (AWL) method to store CO2 in seawater in the form of bicarbonates. Buffered Accelerated Weathering of Limestone (BAWL) is designed to produce a buffered ionic solution, at seawater pH, which derives from the reaction between a CO2 stream and a powder of micron-sized calcium carbonate particles in a long tubular reactor. Addition of calcium hydroxide to buffer the unreacted CO2 before the discharge in seawater is also provided. BAWL aims to overcome the main limitations of AWL, such as the high amount of water needed, the large size of the reactor, the risk of CO2 degassing back into the atmosphere, if the ionic solution is released into shallow waters, as well as the induced seawater acidification. This paper presents the chemical background of the technology and evaluates its feasibility by considering the chemical equilibria in the different phases of the process. The CO2 emitted for limestone calcination leads to a 24% CO2 penalty; a preliminary cost analysis assesses a storage cost of 100 € per tonne of CO2 from an external source. It finally discusses the main features to be considered for the design at the industrial scale.

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Acidification, deoxygenation, nutrient and biomasses decline in a warming Mediterranean Sea

The projected warming, nutrient decline, changes in net primary production, deoxygenation and acidification of the global ocean will dramatically affect marine ecosystems during the 21st century. Here we assess the climate change-related impacts in the marine ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea in the middle and at the end of the 21st century using high-resolution projections of the physical and biogeochemical state of the basin under the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 4.5 and 8.5. The analysis shows significant changes in the dissolved nutrient content of the euphotic and intermediate layers of the basin, net primary production, phytoplankton respiration and carbon stock (including phytoplankton, zooplankton, bacterial biomass and particulate organic matter). The projections also show a uniform surface and subsurface reduction in the oxygen concentration driven by the warming of the water column and by the increase in respiration. Moreover, we observe an acidification in the upper water column, linked to the increase in the dissolved inorganic carbon content of the water column due to CO2 absorption from the atmosphere and the increase in respiration. The projected changes are stronger in the eastern Mediterranean due to the limited influence, in that part of the basin, of the exchanges in the Strait of Gibraltar.

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Regional distribution and environmental regulation mechanism of nitrous oxide in the Bohai Sea and North Yellow Sea: a preliminary study


  • The relationship between N2O and environmental factors were quantified with Generalized additive model (GAM).
  • Riverine input, mixing of water masses, in situ production and sediment release were main N2O sources.
  • Nitrification was identified as the main process for N2O production in water columns.


Nitrous oxide is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases and can destroy the ozone layer through photochemical reactions. In 2019, we conducted three cruises to study the spatial and temporal variability of N2O distribution and emissions in the Bohai Sea (BS) and North Yellow Sea (NYS), and analyzed the regional sources and sinks. The maximum average N2O concentrations were observed in the summer, followed by autumn, while the minimum was observed in the spring. The N2O concentration decreased in a gradient from the estuary to the continental shelf, particularly in summer, which indicated that the riverine input from the estuary was a strong source of N2O in the Bohai Sea. Due to the vertical mixing of the water column, the vertical distribution of N2O was moderate in autumn, while the bottom remained a hotspot for N2O emissions in spring and summer. The generalized additive model (GAM) showed that the temperature, salinity, DO and pH were strong predictors of N2O in the BS and NYS. Excess N2O concentrations were positively linearly correlated with the apparent oxygen utilization and NO3 concentrations, which suggested that nitrification was the dominant process of in situ N2O production in the BS and NYS. The mixing of water masses, especially DW (diluted water) and BCW (Bohai Sea coastal water), provided a significant amount of N2O to the entire shelf area of the BS. In addition, the coastal input was a dominate pusher of N2O emissions in the estuarine region. Overall, the annual N2O emissions from BS and NYS were approximately 1.72 × 10−2 Tg yr−1, which accounted for 0.51% of the annual global marine N2O emissions, but only 0.04% of the total area of the world’s oceans. Hence, both the BS and NYS acted as N2O sources to the atmosphere.

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Marine CO2 system variability along the Inside Passage of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America determined from an Alaskan ferry

Information on marine CO2 system variability has been limited along the Inside Passage of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America despite the region’s rich biodiversity, abundant fisheries, and developing aquaculture industry. Beginning in 2017, the Alaska Marine Highway System M/V Columbia has served as a platform for surface underway data collection while conducting twice weekly ~1600-km transits between Bellingham, Washington and Skagway, Alaska. This dataset allowed for the assessment of marine CO2 system patterns along the Inside Passage, including quantification of the relative importance of key drivers in shaping pCO2 variability. Surface water pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) were determined using the pCO2 data with alkalinity from a regional salinity-based relationship, which was evaluated with discrete seawater samples and underway pH measurements. Low pH and corrosive (Ωarag < 1) Ωarag conditions were seen during winter and in persistent tidal mixing zones, and corrosive Ωarag values were also seen in areas that receive significant glacial melt in summer. The time-of-detection was computed and revealed that tidal mixing zones may be sentinel observing sites with relatively short time spans of observation needed to capture secular trends in seawater pCO2 equivalent to the contemporary atmospheric CO2 increase. Finally, anthropogenic CO2 was estimated and showed notable time and space variability. We theoretically considered the change in hydrogen ion concentration ([H+]), pH, and Ωarag over the industrial era and to an atmospheric pCO2 level consistent with a 1.5 °C warmer climate and revealed greater changes in [H+] and pH in winter as opposed to larger Ωarag change in summer. In addition, the contemporary acidification signal everywhere along the Inside Passage exceeded the global average, with Johnstone Strait and the Salish Sea standing out as potential bellwethers for biological OA impacts. In theory, roughly half the acidification signal experienced thus far over the industrial era may be expected over the coming 15 years with an atmospheric CO2 trajectory that continues to be shaped by fossil-fuel development.

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Characterisation of pH variations along the Ba River in Fiji utilising the GEF R2R framework during the 2019 sugarcane season

Within Pacific Small Island Developing States (Pacific SIDS), the ridge-to-reef (R2R) approach has emerged as a framework for monitoring river connectivity between terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The study measured water quality, including pH, over 88.40 km of the Ba River in Fiji. The sampling design focused on measuring spatio-temporal variability in pH throughout the sugarcane season with three rapid sampling periods (RSP1, 2 & 3) along the Ba River, together with continuous measurement of temperature and pH using stationary data loggers at two locations upstream and downstream of the sugar mill. Spatial variability in pH and water quality was characterised before (RSP1 and RSP2) and during (RSP3) the sugarcane season. Mean pH measured before the sugarcane crushing season for RSP1 and RSP2 were 8.16 (± 0.49) and 8.20 (± 0.61) respectively. During the sugarcane crushing season (RSP3), mean pH declined by 3.06 units to 6.94 within 42 m downstream of the sugar mill (P ≤ 0.001). The 3.06 unit decline in pH for RSP3 exceeded both the mean diurnal variation in pH of 0.39 and mean seasonal variation in pH of 2.01. This decline in pH could be a potential source of acidification to downstream coastal ecosystems with implications for coral reefs, biodiversity and fishery livelihoods.

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Transgenerational effects decrease larval resilience to ocean acidification & warming but juvenile European sea bass could benefit from higher temperatures in the NE Atlantic

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of ocean acidification (OA) and warming (OW) as well as the transgenerational effect of OA on larval and juvenile growth and metabolism of a large economically important fish species with a long generation time. Therefore we incubated European sea bass from Brittany (France) for two generations (>5 years in total) under current and predicted OA conditions (PCO2: 650 and 1700 µatm). In the F1 generation both OA condition were crossed with OW (temperature: 15-18°C and 20-23°C). We found that OA alone did not affect larval or juvenile growth and OW increased developmental time and growth rates, but OAW decreased larval size at metamorphosis. Larval routine metabolic rate (RMR) and juvenile standard metabolic rate (SMR) were significantly lower in cold compared to warm conditioned fish and also lower in F0 compared to F1 fish. We did not find any effect of OA on RMR or SMR. Juvenile PO2crit was not affected by OA, OW or OAW in both generations.

We discuss the potential underlying mechanisms resulting in beneficial effects of OW on F1 larval growth and RMR and in resilience of F0 and F1 larvae and juveniles to OA, but on the other hand resulting in vulnerability of F1, but not F0 larvae to OAW. With regard to the ecological perspective, we conclude that recruitment of larvae and early juveniles to nursery areas might decrease under OAW conditions but individuals reaching juvenile phase might benefit from increased performance at higher temperatures.

Summary statement We found that OA did not affect developmental time, growth, RMR and SMR, while OW increased these traits. OAW decreased larval size at metamorphosis. We discuss underlying mechanisms and the ecological perspective resulting from these results and conclude that recruitment to nursery areas might decrease under OAW conditions but individuals reaching juvenile phase might benefit from increased performance at higher temperatures in Atlantic waters.

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Environmental records from coral skeletons: a decade of novel insights and innovation

Hundreds of coral paleoclimate records have been developed over the past several decades, significantly extending the instrumental record and improving our understanding of tropical climate variability and change in otherwise data-poor regions. Coral “proxy” records measure the change in skeletal geochemistry or growth as a function of ocean conditions at the time of calcification. Over the past decade (since 2010), new syntheses have identified coherent patterns of warming and variability that are unique within the paleo record (albeit not yet unprecedented). In turn, ocean warming and acidification have had a detrimental impact on coral growth, with reduced extension and increased stress banding. Methodological advances have constrained uncertainties and improved our understanding of the processes by which climate information is archived in coral skeletons. Models that describe these processes have been developed to facilitate proxy-model comparisons, identify sources of uncertainties, and provide a benchmark upon which forced changes may be detected within a highly variable climate system. Finally, several innovative new proxies have expanded the climate and environmental information that may be obtained from corals, including: seawater pH, aragonite saturation, anthropogenic nitrogen, runoff, and trade winds. Further extending established and novel proxies should remain a priority, along with seawater monitoring and density measurements with which to screen and calibrate these records. As this critical climate archive is increasingly threatened by warming and ocean acidification, the community must work closely together to collect this invaluable climate data in an ecologically and culturally sensitive manner, before it is too late.

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Transcriptional response of the calcification and stress response toolkits in an octocoral under heat and pH stress

Up to one-third of all described marine species inhabit coral reefs, but the future of these hyperdiverse ecosystems is insecure due to local and global threats, such as overfishing, eutrophication, ocean warming and acidification. Although these impacts are expected to have a net detrimental effect on reefs, it has been shown that some organisms such as octocorals may remain unaffected, or benefit from, anthropogenically induced environmental change, and may replace stony corals in future reefs. Despite their potential importance in future shallow-water coastal environments, the molecular mechanisms leading to the resilience to anthropogenically induced stress observed in octocorals remain unknown. Here, we use manipulative experiments, proteomics and transcriptomics to show that the molecular toolkit used by Pinnigorgia flava, a common Indo-Pacific gorgonian octocoral, to deposit its calcium carbonate skeleton is resilient to heat and seawater acidification stress. Sublethal heat stress triggered a stress response in Pflava but did not affect the expression of 27 transcripts encoding skeletal organic matrix (SOM) proteins. Exposure to seawater acidification did not cause a stress response but triggered the downregulation of many transcripts, including an osteonidogen homologue present in the SOM. The observed transcriptional decoupling of the skeletogenic and stress-response toolkits provides insights into the mechanisms of resilience to anthropogenically driven environmental change observed in octocorals.

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Additive impacts of ocean acidification and ambient ultraviolet radiation threaten calcifying marine primary producers


  • Ocean acidification (OA) acts additively with UVR on marine primary producers.
  • UVR and OA showed additive inhibition of calcification at near in situ conditions.
  • Small proportion of antagonism leads to neutral effects of OA combined with UVR.
  • Magnitude of responses is strongly dependent on experimental duration.


Ocean acidification (OA) represents a threat to marine organisms and ecosystems. However, OA rarely exists in isolation but occurs concomitantly with other stressors such as ultraviolet radiation (UVR), whose effects have been neglected in oceanographical observations. Here, we perform a quantitative meta-analysis based on 373 published experimental assessments from 26 studies to examine the combined effects of OA and UVR on marine primary producers. The results reveal predominantly additive stressor interactions (69–84% depending on the UV waveband), with synergistic and antagonistic interactions being rare but significantly different between micro- and macro-algae. In microalgae, variations in interaction type frequencies are related to cell volume, with antagonistic interactions accounting for a higher proportion in larger sized species. Despite additive interactions being most frequent, the small proportion of antagonistic interactions appears to have a stronger power, leading to neutral effects of OA in combination with UVR. High levels of UVR at near in situ conditions in combination with OA showed additive inhibition of calcification, but not when UVR was low. The results also reveal that the magnitude of responses is strongly dependent on experimental duration, with the negative effects of OA on calcification and pigmentation being buffered and amplified by increasing durations, respectively. Tropical primary producers were more vulnerable to OA or UVR alone compared to conspecifics from other climatic regions. Our analysis highlights that further multi-stressor long-term adaptation experiments with marine organisms of different cell volumes (especially microalgae) from different climatic regions are needed to fully disclose future impacts of OA and UVR.

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Responses of the marine carbonate system to a green tide: a case study of an Ulva prolifera bloom in Qingdao coastal waters


  • The carbonate system was affected intensely during the Ulva prolifera bloom.
  • The calcification in the seawater affected by the Ulva prolifera bloom was enhanced.
  • The release and distribution of organic acids were controlled by the bloom.
  • Qingdao coastal waters changed from a sink of atmospheric CO2 to a strong source.


As an environmental nuisance, Ulva prolifera green tides have occurred annually in the southern Yellow Sea since 2007. While it is expected that high levels of biological activity during these blooms can alter seawater carbonate chemistry, there has been little research on the responses of marine carbonate system to green tides. Here, the effects of the bloom on the carbonate system were examined on three cruises in June, July, and September, corresponding to the early-, late-, and after-bloom periods of the U. prolifera bloom in Qingdao coastal waters in 2018. Among these three stages, the pH (National Bureau of Standards scale), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (TA), and partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) were all affected by bloom, with the highest pH and lowest DIC and TA concentrations of the surface seawater occurring at the late-bloom stage. While pCO2 continuously increased from the beginning to the end of the bloom. TA increased by ∼40 μmol kg−1 between the early- and after-bloom periods likely due to the shifts in the carbonate system equilibrium caused by increased CO32− concentrations and the organic matter released by U. prolifera during decomposition. Compared to nearby areas with no U. prolifera bloom, the green tide, along with increasing temperature, reduced the pH and DIC but increased the TA and pCO2. This large-scale bloom also turned the coastal waters from being an atmospheric CO2 sink to a strong source, with the estimation of air-sea CO2 fluxes about 1.69 ± 1.70, 2.28 ± 1.16, and 7.44 ± 5.84 mmol m−2 d−1 during the early-, late-, and after-bloom periods, respectively. This bloom event also promoted the formation of CaCO3 and was an important source of low molecular weight organic acids. These new findings provide nuances for the current conversations on the role of biological processes in modulating marine carbonate system and the contribution of organic matter to alkalinity.

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Seasonal changes in seawater calcium and alkalinity in the Sargasso Sea and across the Bermuda carbonate platform

Ocean acidification may shift coral reefs from a state of net ecosystem calcification (+NEC) to net ecosystem dissolution (–NEC). Changes in NEC are typically inferred from either measured or calculated total alkalinity (TA) or the dissolved calcium (Ca) to salinity ratio relative to a reference value. The alkalinity anomaly technique has historically been the primary method to estimate NEC due to the greater analytical challenges and uncertainty associated with dissolved Ca measurements in seawater. However, this method assumes that changes in salinity-normalized TA are exclusively the result of calcification and dissolution processes. In many cases, this assumption is valid, but in some environments additional processes can significantly influence seawater TA (e.g., nutrient fluxes, redox processes). Seawater Ca is unaffected or less sensitive to these processes, and therefore, Ca and TA anomalies can be used to estimate absolute or relative changes in NEC with greater confidence. Here, we present a two-year time series of monthly seawater Ca and TA measurements across the Bermuda carbonate platform and the nearby Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) location offshore. High precision Ca measurements (±6 μmol kg−1) were conducted using an improved spectrophotometric titration system and showed mostly good agreement with changes in TA over the same spatial and temporal scales. Ca and TA measurements across the Bermuda platform showed seasonal fluctuations relative to offshore waters, with +NEC during summer months and near-zero or possible –NEC (net dissolution) during winter months. These seasonal patterns were most pronounced at the inshore locations with the longest residence times (10+ days), which allow stronger biogeochemical signals to develop relative to the offshore source water. Although obtaining high accuracy and precision Ca measurements remains challenging, parallel measurements of Ca and TA from both inshore and offshore waters over a multi-annual timescale strengthen the validity of predictions for when, where, and why a reef system, such as the Bermuda platform, may shift from +NEC to –NEC.

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Assessing the state of the Barents Sea using indicators: how, when, and where?

Two end-to-end ecosystem models, NORWECOM.E2E and NoBa Atlantis, have been used to explore a selection of indicators from the Barents Sea Management plans (BSMP). The indicators included in the BSMP are a combination of simple (e.g. temperature, biomass, and abundance) and complex (e.g. trophic level and biomass of functional groups). The abiotic indicators are found to serve more as a tool to report on climate trends rather than being ecological indicators. It is shown that the selected indicators give a good overview of the ecosystem state, but that overarching management targets and lack of connection between indicators and management actions makes it questionable if the indicator system is suitable for direct use in management as such. The lack of socio-economic and economic indicators prevents a holistic view of the system, and an inclusion of these in future management plans is recommended. The evaluated indicators perform well as an assessment of the ecosystem, but consistency and representativeness are extremely dependent on the time and in what area they are sampled. This conclusion strongly supports the inclusion of an observing system simulation experiment in management plans, to make sure that the observations represent the properties that the indicators need.

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Effects of ocean acidification on the biochemistry, physiology and parental transfer of Ampelisca brevicornis (Costa, 1853)


  • Acidification had a deleterious impact on physiological and biochemical responses.
  • Ampelisca altered the age and size of reproductive maturity.
  • Antioxidant mechanisms were overcome in predicted acidified conditions.
  • The impact on growth had serious consequences on reproductive performance.
  • Survival was high in generation F1 than F0 juveniles and vice-versa in growth.


Ocean acidification (OA) has gotten more attention in the marine research community in recent years than any other topic. Excess carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic, threatening marine ecosystems. There has been little research on the impact of OA on crustaceans, particularly on their physiological and potential ecosystem-level consequences. Thus, we investigated the impacts of OA on the physiological and biochemical characteristics of the estuarine amphipod A. brevicornis. Ovigerous amphipods were harvested from nature and maintained in the laboratory to produce juveniles; which were then further reared to obtain the mature adults (F0) and successive offspring (F1). For this study, four pH treatments (pH 8.1, 7.5, 7.0 and 6.5) mimicking future OA were evaluated to understand the physiological and biochemical effects on the organisms. The findings of this study suggest that A. brevicornis is more vulnerable to OA than was previously established in short-term trials. The survival was significantly reduced as pH decreased over time and a significant interaction between pH and time was observed. Survival was higher in F1 than F0 juveniles and vice-versa in terms of growth. Animal’s physiological responses such as growth, burrowing behaviors, locomotor activity, swimming speed, ventilation rate, and reproductive performances were all negatively influenced by acidification. These physiological characteristics can be linked to the oxidative stress induced by global change conditions because excess free radicals degrade cell functioning, affecting species’ biochemical and physiological performance. These alterations may not only have long-term negative consequences, but they may also have ecological consequences. The results of this study provide baseline information regarding effect of OA on this keystone crustacean that may be useful in simulating the impacts of OA to develop different conceptual models for a better understanding of climate change’s consequences and implications in the future for managing marine ecosystem.

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Ocean acidification reduces the growth of two Southern Ocean phytoplankton

Model projections for the Southern Ocean indicate that light, iron (Fe) availability, temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) will change concurrently in the future. We investigated the physiological responses of Southern Ocean phytoplankton to multiple variables by culturing the haptophyte Phaeocystis antarctica and the diatom Chaetoceros flexuosus under various combinations of light, Fe, temperature and CO2. Using statistical models, the influence of each environmental variable was analysed for each physiological response, ultimately predicting how ‘future’ conditions (high temperature and high CO2) influenced the two phytoplankton species. Under future conditions, cellular chlorophyll a and carbon to nitrogen molar ratios were modelled to increase for both species, in all light and Fe treatments, but at times were inconsistent with measured values. Measured and modelled values of the photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) declined in cultures of P. antarctica due to concurrent increases in temperature and CO2, under all light and Fe treatments. The trends in Fv/Fm for C. flexuosus were less clear. Our model and observations suggest that when temperature and CO2 are concurrently increased, the growth of both species remains largely unchanged. This modelling analysis reveals that high CO2 exerts a strong negative influence on the growth of both phytoplankton, and any ‘future’ increase in growth can be attributed to the positive effect of warming rather than a CO2 fertilisation effect.

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Exacerbation of copper pollution toxicity from ocean acidification: a comparative analysis of two bivalve species with distinct sensitivities


  • OA aggravates the toxicity of Cu in both clams and scallops.
  • Scallops were more sensitive to the toxicity of Cu and/or OA than clams.
  • OA and Cu lead to increased protein turnover, disturbed cytoskeleton.
  • OA and Cu lead to apoptosis and suppressed energy metabolism pathway.


In estuarine ecosystems, bivalves experience large pH fluctuations caused by the anthropogenic elevation of atmospheric CO2 and Cu pollution. This study investigates whether Cu toxicity increases indiscriminately in two bivalve species from different estuarine habitats as a result of elevated Cu bioaccumulation in acidified seawater. This was carried out by evaluating the effects of Cu exposure on two bivalve species (clams and scallops) for 28 d, at a series of gradient pH levels (pH 8.1, 7.8, and 7.6). The results demonstrated an increase in the Cu content in the soft tissues of clams and scallops in acidified seawater. Cu toxicity increased under acidified seawater by affecting the molecular pathways, physiological function, biochemical responses, and health status of clams and scallops. An iTRAQ-based quantitative proteomic analysis showed increased protein turnover, disturbed cytoskeleton and signal transduction pathways, apoptosis, and suppressed energy metabolism pathways in the clams and scallops under joint exposure to ocean acidification and Cu. The integrated biomarker response results suggested that scallops were more sensitive to Cu toxicity and/or ocean acidification than clams. The proteomic results suggested that the increased energy metabolism and suppressed protein turnover rates may contribute to a higher resistivity to ocean acidification in clams than scallops. Overall, this study provides molecular insights into the distinct sensitivities between two bivalve species from different habitats under exposure to ocean acidification and/or Cu. The findings emphasize the aggravating impact of ocean acidification on Cu toxicity in clams and scallops. The results show that ocean acidification and copper pollution may reduce the long-term viability of clams and scallops, and lead to the degradation of estuarine ecosystems.

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Data-based estimates of interannual sea–air CO2 flux variations 1957–2020 and their relation to environmental drivers

This study considers year-to-year and decadal variations as well as secular trends of the sea–air CO2 flux over the 1957–2020 period, as constrained by the pCO2 measurements from the SOCAT data base. In a first step, we relate interannual anomalies in ocean-internal carbon sources and sinks to local interannual anomalies in sea surface temperature (SST), the temporal changes of SST (dSST/dt), and squared wind speed (u2), employing a multi-linear regression. In the tropical Pacific, we find interannual variability to be dominated by dSST/dt, as arising from variations in the upwelling of colder and more carbon-rich waters into the mixed layer. In the eastern upwelling zones as well as in circumpolar bands in the high latitudes of both hemispheres, we find sensitivity to wind speed, compatible with the entrainment of carbon-rich water during wind-driven deepening of the mixed layer and wind-driven upwelling. In the Southern Ocean, the secular increase in wind speed leads to a secular increase in the carbon source into the mixed layer, with an estimated reduction of the sink trend in the range 17 to 42 %. In a second step, we combined the result of the multi-linear regression and an explicitly interannual pCO2-based additive correction into a “hybrid” estimate of the sea–air COflux over the period 1957–2020. As a pCO2 mapping method, it combines (a) the ability of a regression to bridge data gaps and extrapolate into the early decades almost void of pCO2 data based on process-related observables and (b) the ability of an autoregressive interpolation to follow signals even if not represented in the chosen set of explanatory variables. The “hybrid” estimate can be applied as ocean flux prior for atmospheric CO2 inversions covering the whole period of atmospheric CO2 data since 1957.

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Toxicological effects of cadmium on the immune response and biomineralization of larval flounder Paralichthys olivaceus under seawater acidification


  • Seawater acidification and Cd cause innate immunosuppression in flounder larvae.
  • Both stressors induce the activities of biomineralization-related enzymes.
  • Cd exposure significantly affects the expressions of immune-related genes.
  • Seawater acidification aggravates Cd toxicity to immune function of larvae.


Seawater acidification can cause threats to both calcifying and uncalcifying marine organisms, affecting their acid-base regulatory functions like immune system and biomineralization. Marine pollutants, such as cadmium (Cd) that is globally distributed in coastal ecosystems, do not affect organisms alone but commonly as combined stressors. To investigate the toxicological effects of Cd on the immune and biomineralization of marine fishes under seawater acidification, flounder Paralichthys olivaceus was exposed to seawater acidification (control (pH 8.10), 7.70 and 7.30) and Cd exposure (control (0.36 μg L−1), 0.01 and 0.15 mg L−1 Cd) for 49 days from embryonic stage until they became settled. Immune and biomineralization-related biomarkers of flounder at the end of exposure were investigated. Results showed that single seawater acidification and Cd exposure or combined exposure significantly affected the immune system-related enzyme activities. Specifically, lysozyme (LZM) activity was significantly inhibited by single seawater acidification and Cd exposure, indicating innate immunosuppression under two stressors. Contents of IgM, HSP70 and MT were induced by seawater acidification or Cd exposure, indicating a detoxification mechanism that responded to the stressors. The expressions of immune-related genes were upregulated (hsp70 and mt) or downregulated (lzm) under Cd exposure. Of the biomineralization-related enzymes, activities of carbonic anhydrase (CA), Na+/K+-ATPase and Ca2+-ATPase increased under seawater acidification and Cd exposure, a potential mechanism in response to changes of acid-base balance induced by the stressors. Generally, immune and biomineralization of the flounder responded more sensitively to Cd exposure than seawater acidification. Seawater acidification aggravated the toxicological effects of Cd exposure on the two physiological functions, while high Cd exposure augmented their responses to seawater acidification.

Continue reading ‘Toxicological effects of cadmium on the immune response and biomineralization of larval flounder Paralichthys olivaceus under seawater acidification’

Corals losing control

Reef-building corals are among the most sensitive organisms to changes in ocean chemistry, making them both susceptible to the negative consequences of ocean acidification and powerful proxies for past ocean conditions. However, most coral records of seawater pH are derived from living colonies, and as such they do not exceed the past ~400 years. Therefore, not much is known about the carbonate chemistry of ancient corals or whether there are differences in how modern and fossil corals calcify, leaving the longer-term effects of ocean acidification on coral growth unknown.

Xuefei Chen at the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, and colleagues, measured boron (δ11B and B/Ca) geochemical proxies for pH and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in both modern and fossil Porites spp. collected from east Hainan Island, northern South China Sea. As corals form their skeletons from an internal calcifying fluid (CF), δ11B- and B/Ca-derived measurements are interpreted as the pH and carbonate chemistry of the CF (pHCF and DICCF), unless translated to seawater values. Stark differences in boron isotope measurements between modern and fossil colonies were observed (a mean difference of ~1.67‰ for δ11B), exceeding the intercolony difference. The results purport that ancient corals maintained a higher pH (+ 0.12 units) at their site of calcification relative to modern corals, but exhibited almost equivalent DIC at the site of calcification, meaning that over time, the ability of corals to up-regulate their CF pH has decreased. Therefore, while modern corals are able to concentrate carbon for calcification similarly to ancient corals, ocean acidification has decreased the ability of modern corals to up-regulate their pHCF, potentially indicating a loss of resilience to ocean acidification on coral growth.

Credit: Massimiliano Finzi/Getty Images

Although these results come from only one location and one coral genus, they highlight the high level of control coral can have over their calcification while also underscoring the impact of ocean acidification and warming on coral growth. Future research should test more species and locations to determine whether the impacts of ocean acidification are consistent or specific to this coral species.

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Experimentally decomposing phytoplankton community change into ecological and evolutionary contributions

  1. Shifts in microbial communities and their functioning in response to environmental change result from contemporary interspecific and intraspecific diversity changes. Interspecific changes are driven by ecological shifts in species composition, while intraspecific changes are here assumed to be dominated by evolutionary shifts in genotype frequency. Quantifying the relative contributions of interspecific and intraspecific diversity shifts to community change thus addresses the essential, yet understudied question as to how important ecological and evolutionary contributions are to total community changes. This debate is to date practically constrained by (a) a lack of studies integrating across organizational levels and (b) a mismatch between data requirements of existing partitioning metrics and the feasibility to collect such data, especially in microscopic organisms like phytoplankton.
  2. We experimentally assessed the relative ecological and evolutionary contributions to total phytoplankton community changes using a new design and validated its functionality by comparisons to established partitioning metrics. We used a community of coexisting Emiliania huxleyi and Chaetoceros affinis with initially nine genotypes each. First, we exposed the community to elevated CO2 concentration for 80 days (~50 generations) to induce interspecific and intraspecific diversity changes and a total abundance change. Second, we independently manipulated the induced interspecific and intraspecific diversity changes in an assay to quantify the corresponding ecological and evolutionary contributions to the total change. Third, we applied existing partitioning metrics to our experimental data and compared the outcomes.
  3. Total phytoplankton abundance declined to one-fifth in the high CO2 exposed community compared to ambient conditions. Consistently across all applied partitioning metrics, the abundance decline could predominantly be explained by ecological shifts and to a low extent by evolutionary changes.
  4. We discuss potential consequences of the observed community changes on ecosystem functioning. Furthermore, we explain that the low evolutionary contributions likely resulted of intraspecific diversity changes that occurred irrespectively of CO2. We discuss how the assay could be upscaled to more realistic settings, including more species and drivers. Overall, the presented calculations of eco-evolutionary contributions to phytoplankton community changes constitute another important step towards understanding future phytoplankton shifts, and eco-evolutionary dynamics in general.
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