Archive for the 'Science' Category

Continuous acid-free measurements of total alkalinity (United States Patent)

Inventors: Byrne R. H. (St. Petersburg, FL, US) & Liu X. (Largo, FL, US)
A system and method for the substantially continuous measurement of the total alkalinity of a sample solution, which includes, equilibrating a sample solution and a gas at a chosen CO2 fugacity across a gas permeable membrane, measuring the equilibrium pH of the equilibrated solution in an optical cell using a spectrophotometric pH indicator and calculating the total alkalinity of the solution from the equilibrium pH measurement of the solution and a known partial pressure of CO2.

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Rapid bioerosion in a tropical upwelling coral reef

Coral reefs persist in an accretion-erosion balance, which is critical for understanding the natural variability of sediment production, reef accretion, and their effects on the carbonate budget. Bioerosion (i.e. biodegradation of substrate) and encrustation (i.e. calcified overgrowth on substrate) influence the carbonate budget and the ecological functions of coral reefs, by substrate formation/consolidation/erosion, food availability and nutrient cycling. This study investigates settlement succession and carbonate budget change by bioeroding and encrusting calcifying organisms on experimentally deployed coral substrates (skeletal fragments of Stylophora pistillata branches). The substrates were deployed in a marginal coral reef located in the Gulf of Papagayo (Costa Rica, Eastern Tropical Pacific) for four months during the northern winter upwelling period (December 2013 to March 2014), and consecutively sampled after each month. Due to the upwelling environmental conditions within the Eastern Tropical Pacific, this region serves as a natural laboratory to study ecological processes such as bioerosion, which may reflect climate change scenarios. Time-series analyses showed a rapid settlement of bioeroders, particularly of lithophagine bivalves of the genus Lithophaga/Leiosolenus (Dillwyn, 1817), within the first two months of exposure. The observed enhanced calcium carbonate loss of coral substrate (>30%) may influence seawater carbon chemistry. This is evident by measurements of an elevated seawater pH (>8.2) and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag >3) at Matapalo Reef during the upwelling period, when compared to a previous upwelling event observed at a nearby site in distance to a coral reef (Marina Papagayo). Due to the resulting local carbonate buffer effect of the seawater, an influx of atmospheric CO2 into reef waters was observed. Substrates showed no secondary cements in thin-section analyses, despite constant seawater carbonate oversaturation (Ωarag >2.8) during the field experiment. Micro Computerized Tomography (μCT) scans and microcast-embeddings of the substrates revealed that the carbonate loss was primarily due to internal macrobioerosion and an increase in microbioerosion. This study emphasizes the interconnected effects of upwelling and carbonate bioerosion on the reef carbonate budget and the ecological turnovers of carbonate producers in tropical coral reefs under environmental change.

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Effect of seawater temperature, pH, and nutrients on the distribution and character of low abundance shallow water benthic foraminifera in the Galápagos

In order to help predict the effects of anthropogenic stressors on shallow water carbonate environments, it is important to focus research on regions containing natural oceanographic gradients, particularly with respect to interactions between oceanography and ecologically sensitive carbonate producers. The Galápagos Archipelago, an island chain in the eastern equatorial Pacific, spans a natural nutrient, pH, and temperature gradient due to the interaction of several major ocean currents. Further, the region is heavily impacted by the El Niño—Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Galápagos exhibited widespread coral bleaching and degradation following the strong ENSO events of 1982–1983 and 1997–1998. These findings are coupled with reports of unusually low abundances of time-averaged benthic foraminiferal assemblages throughout the region. Foraminifera, shelled single-celled protists, are sensitive to environmental change and rapidly respond to alterations to their surrounding environment, making them ideal indicator species for the study of reef water quality and health. Here, statistical models and analyses were used to compare modern shallow water benthic foraminiferal assemblages from 19 samples spanning the Galápagos Archipelago to predominant oceanographic parameters at each collection site. Fisher α diversity indices, Ternary diagrams, Canonical Correspondence Analysis, regression tree analysis and FORAM-Index (FI; a single metric index for evaluating water quality associated with reef development) implied a combined impact from ENSO and upwelling from Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) waters to primarily impact foraminiferal abundances and drive assemblage patterns throughout the archipelago. For instance, repeated ENSO temperature anomalies might be responsible for low foraminiferal density, while chronically high nutrients and low aragonite saturation and low pH—induced by EUC upwelling and La Niña anomalies—likely inhibited post-ENSO recovery, and caused foraminiferal assemblages to exhibit a heterotrophic dominance in the southern archipelago. What resulted are low FI values in the southern collection sites, indicating environments not conducive to endosymbiont development and/or recovery.

Continue reading ‘Effect of seawater temperature, pH, and nutrients on the distribution and character of low abundance shallow water benthic foraminifera in the Galápagos’

Marine metazoan modern mass extinction: improving predictions by integrating fossil, modern, and physiological data

Evolution, extinction, and dispersion are fundamental processes affecting marine biodiversity. Until recently, studies of extant marine systems focused mainly on evolution and dispersion, with extinction receiving less attention. Past extinction events have, however, shaped the evolutionary history of marine ecosystems, with ecological and evolutionary legacies still evident in modern seas. Current anthropogenic global changes increase extinction risk and pose a significant threat to marine ecosystems, which are critical for human use and sustenance. The evaluation of these threats and the likely responses of marine ecosystems requires a better understanding of evolutionary processes that affect marine ecosystems under global change. Here, we discuss how knowledge of (a) changes in biodiversity of ancient marine ecosystems to past extinctions events, (b) the patterns of sensitivity and biodiversity loss in modern marine taxa, and (c) the physiological mechanisms underpinning species’ sensitivity to global change can be exploited and integrated to advance our critical thinking in this area.

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Carbon cycling in the North American coastal ocean: a synthesis

A quantification of carbon fluxes in the coastal ocean and across its boundaries, specifically the air-sea, land-to-coastal-ocean and coastal-to-open-ocean interfaces, is important for assessing the current state and projecting future trends in ocean carbon uptake and coastal ocean acidification, but is currently a missing component of global carbon budgeting. This synthesis reviews recent progress in characterizing these carbon fluxes with focus on the North American coastal ocean. Several observing networks and high-resolution regional models are now available. Recent efforts have focused primarily on quantifying net air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide (CO2). Some studies have estimated other key fluxes, such as the exchange of organic and inorganic carbon between shelves and the open ocean. Available estimates of air-sea CO2 flux, informed by more than a decade of observations, indicate that the North American margins act as a net sink for atmospheric CO2. This net uptake is driven primarily by the high-latitude regions. The estimated magnitude of the net flux is 160±80TgC/y for the North American Exclusive Economic Zone, a number that is not well constrained. The increasing concentration of inorganic carbon in coastal and open-ocean waters leads to ocean acidification. As a result conditions favouring dissolution of calcium carbonate occur regularly in subsurface coastal waters in the Arctic, which are naturally prone to low pH, and the North Pacific, where upwelling of deep, carbon-rich waters has intensified and, in combination with the uptake of anthropogenic carbon, leads to low seawater pH and aragonite saturation states during the upwelling season. Expanded monitoring and extension of existing model capabilities are required to provide more reliable coastal carbon budgets, projections of future states of the coastal ocean, and quantification of anthropogenic carbon contributions.

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An alternative to static climatologies: robust estimation of open ocean CO2 variables and nutrient concentrations from T, S, and O2 data using Bayesian neural networks

This work presents two new methods to estimate oceanic alkalinity (AT), dissolved inorganic carbon (CT), pH, and pCO2 from temperature, salinity, oxygen, and geolocation data. “CANYON-B” is a Bayesian neural network mapping that accurately reproduces GLODAPv2 bottle data and the biogeochemical relations contained therein. “CONTENT” combines and refines the four carbonate system variables to be consistent with carbonate chemistry. Both methods come with a robust uncertainty estimate that incorporates information from the local conditions. They are validated against independent GO-SHIP bottle and sensor data, and compare favorably to other state-of-the-art mapping methods. As “dynamic climatologies” they show comparable performance to classical climatologies on large scales but a much better representation on smaller scales (40–120 d, 500–1,500 km) compared to in situ data. The limits of these mappings are explored with pCO2 estimation in surface waters, i.e., at the edge of the domain with high intrinsic variability. In highly productive areas, there is a tendency for pCO2 overestimation due to decoupling of the O2 and C cycles by air-sea gas exchange, but global surface pCO2 estimates are unbiased compared to a monthly climatology. CANYON-B and CONTENT are highly useful as transfer functions between components of the ocean observing system (GO-SHIP repeat hydrography, BGC-Argo, underway observations) and permit the synergistic use of these highly complementary systems, both in spatial/temporal coverage and number of observations. Through easily and robotically-accessible observations they allow densification of more difficult-to-observe variables (e.g., 15 times denser AT and CT compared to direct measurements). At the same time, they give access to the complete carbonate system. This potential is demonstrated by an observation-based global analysis of the Revelle buffer factor, which shows a significant, high latitude-intensified increase between +0.1 and +0.4 units per decade. This shows the utility that such transfer functions with realistic uncertainty estimates provide to ocean biogeochemistry and global climate change research. In addition, CANYON-B provides robust and accurate estimates of nitrate, phosphate, and silicate. Matlab and R code are available at

Continue reading ‘An alternative to static climatologies: robust estimation of open ocean CO2 variables and nutrient concentrations from T, S, and O2 data using Bayesian neural networks’

Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the bioenergetics of developing eggs of Atlantic herring Clupea harengus

Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) is a benthic spawner, therefore its eggs are prone to encounter different water conditions during embryonic development, with bottom waters often depleted of oxygen and enriched in CO2. Some Atlantic herring spawning grounds are predicted to be highly affected by ongoing Ocean Acidification and Warming with water temperature increasing by up to +3°C and CO2 levels reaching ca. 1000 μatm (RCP 8.5). Although many studies investigated the effects of high levels of CO2 on the embryonic development of Atlantic herring, little is known about the combination of temperature and ecologically relevant levels of CO2. In this study, we investigated the effects of Ocean Acidification and Warming on embryonic metabolic and developmental performance such as mitochondrial function, respiration, hatching success (HS) and growth in Atlantic herring from the Oslo Fjord, one of the spawning grounds predicted to be greatly affected by climate change. Fertilized eggs were incubated under combinations of two PCO2 conditions (400 μatm and 1100 μatm) and three temperatures (6, 10 and 14°C), which correspond to current and end-of-the-century conditions. We analysed HS, oxygen consumption (MO2) and mitochondrial function of embryos as well as larval length at hatch. The capacity of the electron transport system (ETS) increased with temperature, reaching a plateau at 14°C, where the contribution of Complex I to the ETS declined in favour of Complex II. This relative shift was coupled with a dramatic increase in MO2 at 14°C. HS was high under ambient spawning conditions (6–10°C), but decreased at 14°C and hatched larvae at this temperature were smaller. Elevated PCO2 increased larval malformations, indicating sub-lethal effects. These results indicate that energetic limitations due to thermally affected mitochondria and higher energy demand for maintenance occur at the expense of embryonic development and growth.

Continue reading ‘Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the bioenergetics of developing eggs of Atlantic herring Clupea harengus’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book