Posts Tagged 'Antarctic'

Ichnodiversity in the eastern Canadian Arctic in the context of polar microbioerosion patterns

Studies of marine microbioerosion in polar environments are scarce. They include our recent investigations of bioerosion traces preserved in sessile balanid skeletons from the Arctic Svalbard archipelago and the Antarctic Ross Sea. Here, we present results from a third study site, Frobisher Bay, in the eastern Canadian Arctic, together with a synthesis of our current knowledge of polar bioerosion in both hemispheres. Barnacles from 62 to 94 m water depth in Frobisher Bay were prepared using the cast-embedding technique to enable visualization of microboring traces by scanning electron microscopy. In total, six ichnotaxa of traces produced by organotrophic bioeroders were found. All recorded ichnotaxa were also present in Mosselbukta, Svalbard, and most in the Ross Sea. Frobisher Bay contrasts with Mosselbukta in that it is a siliciclastic-dominated environment and shows a lower ichnodiversity, which may be accounted for by the limited bathymetrical range and a high turbidity and sedimentation rate. We evaluate potential key ichnotaxa for the cold-temperate and polar regions, of which the most suitable are Flagrichnus baiulus and Saccomorpha guttulata, and propose adapted index ichnocoenoses for the interpretation of palaeobathymetry accordingly. Together, the three studies allow us to make provisional considerations about the biogeographical distribution of polar microbioerosion traces reflecting the ecophysiological limits of their makers.

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The symbiotic relationship between the Antarctic limpet, Nacella concinna, and epibiont coralline algae

The Antarctic limpet, Nacella concinna, is one of the most abundant benthic marine invertebrates found in the intertidal zone of King George Island, Antarctica. The shell of N. concinna is often encrusted with the coralline algae Clathromorphum obtectulum. In this study, to reveal the relationship between the limpet and coralline algae, we examined how the coralline algae affect the physical condition (survival and health) and morphology of the limpet. We cultured the limpets for 22 days and compared mortality, weight, condition factor (CF), fatty acid content, and the structure of the shell surface between limpets both with and without coralline algae in the laboratory. We also measured the environmental factors (i.e., temperature, pH, and salinity) of the seawater at each sampling site and the CF of the limpets and correlated them with coverage of coralline algae. The presence of coralline algae significantly increased the mortality of the limpets by 40% and the shell weight by 1.4-fold but did not affect the CF. Additionally, coralline algae altered the fatty acid profiles related to the limpet’s lipid metabolism (saturated fatty acids (SFA) and some polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)). Specifically, C16:0, C17:0, C18:0, and total SFA increased, whereas C18:2 and C18:3 decreased. However, observations with a scanning electron microscope showed that shell damage in limpets with coralline algae was much less than in limpets without coralline algae, suggesting that coralline algae may provide protection against endolithic algae. The area of coralline algae on the limpet shell was positively correlated with the pH and temperature of the seawater. The results suggest that although coralline algae are generally assumed to be parasitical, the relationship between N. concinna and coralline algae may change to mutualism under certain conditions.

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In contrast to diatoms, cryptophytes are susceptible to iron limitation, but not to ocean acidification

Previous field studies in the Southern Ocean (SO) indicated an increased occurrence and dominance of cryptophytes over diatoms due to climate change. To gain a better mechanistic understanding of how the two ecologically important SO phytoplankton groups cope with ocean acidification (OA) and iron (Fe) availability, we chose two common representatives of Antarctic waters, the cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila and the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata. Both species were grown at 2°C under different pCO2 (400 vs. 900 μatm) and Fe (0.6 vs. 1.2 nM) conditions. For P. subcurvata, an additional high pCO2 level was applied (1400 μatm). At ambient pCO2 under low Fe supply, growth of G. cryophila almost stopped while it remained unaffected in P. subcurvata. Under high Fe conditions, OA was not beneficial for P. subcurvata, but stimulated growth and carbon production of G. cryophila. Under low Fe supply, P. subcurvata coped much better with OA than the cryptophyte, but invested more energy into photoacclimation. Our study reveals that Fe limitation was detrimental for the growth of G. cryophila and suppressed the positive OA effect. The diatom was efficient in coping with low Fe, but was stressed by OA while both factors together strongly impacted its growth. The distinct physiological response of both species to OA and Fe limitation explains their occurrence in the field. Based on our results, Fe availability is an important modulator of OA effects on SO phytoplankton, with different implications on the occurrence of cryptophytes and diatoms in the future.

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A seamless ensemble-based reconstruction of surface ocean pCO2 and air–sea CO2 fluxes over the global coastal and open oceans

We have estimated global air–sea CO2 fluxes (fgCO2) from the open ocean to coastal seas. Fluxes and associated uncertainty are computed from an ensemble-based reconstruction of CO2 sea surface partial pressure (pCO2) maps trained with gridded data from the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas v2020 database. The ensemble mean (which is the best estimate provided by the approach) fits independent data well, and a broad agreement between the spatial distribution of model–data differences and the ensemble standard deviation (which is our model uncertainty estimate) is seen. Ensemble-based uncertainty estimates are denoted by ±1σ. The space–time-varying uncertainty fields identify oceanic regions where improvements in data reconstruction and extensions of the observational network are needed. Poor reconstructions of pCO2 are primarily found over the coasts and/or in regions with sparse observations, while fgCO2 estimates with the largest uncertainty are observed over the open Southern Ocean (44 S southward), the subpolar regions, the Indian Ocean gyre, and upwelling systems.

Our estimate of the global net sink for the period 1985–2019 is 1.643±0.125 PgC yr−1 including 0.150±0.010 PgC yr−1 for the coastal net sink. Among the ocean basins, the Subtropical Pacific (18–49 N) and the Subpolar Atlantic (49–76 N) appear to be the strongest CO2 sinks for the open ocean and the coastal ocean, respectively. Based on mean flux density per unit area, the most intense CO2 drawdown is, however, observed over the Arctic (76 N poleward) followed by the Subpolar Atlantic and Subtropical Pacific for both open-ocean and coastal sectors. Reconstruction results also show significant changes in the global annual integral of all open- and coastal-ocean CO2 fluxes with a growth rate of  PgC yr−2 and a temporal standard deviation of 0.526±0.022 PgC yr−1 over the 35-year period. The link between the large interannual to multi-year variations of the global net sink and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation climate variability is reconfirmed.

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Particulate iron bioavailability to phytoplankton in Antarctic and Arctic waters: effects of ocean acidification and the organic ligand EDTA

Particulate iron (PFe) usually is not considered as a bioavailable iron fraction to phytoplankton. In this study we tested the bioavailability of one PFe species, goethite (α-FeO(OH)), to phytoplankton community in Southern Ocean under the effect of ocean acidification (OA) (pHT ca. 7.5) and representative concentration pathways (RCP) 8.5 condition (pCO2 ca. 1300 µatm), and to an Arctic diatom species, Nitzschia frigida, under the effect of the organic ligand, EDTA (using the commercially available salt disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate dihydrate), as a chelator, respectively.

In March 2019, a natural phytoplankton community was sampled and used for the deck incubation experiment in the Southern Ocean. The sampling site was 68.10°S, 6.00° W, which was in the region of Queen Maud Land (Norwegian: Dronning Maud Land, DML). We observed marine biogeochemical performance of the phytoplankton community under OA. Different chemical and biological parameters during the incubation were determined, including dissolved iron (DFe), total acid leachable iron (TaLFe), macronutrients including nitrate (NO3-), phosphate (PO43-) and silicate, total pH (pHT), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), the concentration & fugacity of carbon dioxide (fCO2), chlorophyll a (Chla) concentration & in vivo fluorescence. The results show that the tested phytoplankton assemblage was more severely influenced by OA than iron bioavailability, especially under severe OA. Goethite, as one type of PFe, is insoluble under the tested OA scenarios. There could be PO43- remineralization in all treatments but species shift to diatoms only in ambient pH treatments (mild OA), which coincides with the judgement that OA impact is predominant in comparison to iron enrichment in this experiment. We should analyze phytoplankton species to test this hypothesis. OA can result in that phytoplankton launches Hv channel-mediated H+ efflux mechanism, carbon concentration mechanism (CCM) down-regulation of phytoplankton and the thriving of more tolerant species with more efficient CCM.

In April 2021, using an Arctic diatom species, Nitzschia frigida, we investigated the possibility of EDTA increasing goethite bioavailability to phytoplankton and photosynthetic performance by measuring relative electron transport rate (rETR) in the experiment performed at Trondheim Biological Station (Norwegian: Trondheim Biologiske Stasjon, TBS). The results show that elevating EDTA concentration can increase the bioavailability of goethite while decrease that of ferric chloride (FeCl3). This is inconclusive according to possibly negatively biased α (the slope of a typical P/E (photosynthesis/irradiance) curve), because it results in underestimation of goethite bioavailability under the influence of EDTA.

Further research regarding the combined effect of OA and EDTA on PFe bioavailability to phytoplankton is recommended.

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Methane hydrate dissociation across the Oligocene–Miocene boundary

Methane hydrate dissociation has long been considered as a mechanism for global carbon cycle perturbations, climate change and even mass extinctions in Earth’s history. However, direct evidence of hydrate destabilization and methane release coinciding with such events is scarce. Here we report the presence of diagnostic lipid biomarkers with depleted carbon isotopes from three sites in the Southern Ocean that are directly linked to methane release and subsequent oxidation across the Oligocene–Miocene boundary (23 million years ago). The biomarker evidence indicates that the hydrate destabilization was initiated during the peak of the Oligocene–Miocene boundary glaciation and sea-level low stand, consistent with our model results suggesting the decrease in hydrostatic pressure eroded the base of global methane hydrate stability zones. Aerobic oxidation of methane in seawater consumes oxygen and acidifies the ocean, acting as a negative feedback that perhaps facilitated the rapid and mysterious termination of glaciation in the early Miocene.

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Responses of a natural phytoplankton community from the Drake Passage to two predicted climate change scenarios

Contrasting models predict two different climate change scenarios for the Southern Ocean (SO), forecasting either less or stronger vertical mixing of the water column. To investigate the responses of SO phytoplankton to these future conditions, we sampled a natural diatom dominated (63%) community from today’s relatively moderately mixed Drake Passage waters with both low availabilities of iron (Fe) and light. The phytoplankton community was then incubated at these ambient open ocean conditions (low Fe and low light, moderate mixing treatment), representing a control treatment. In addition, the phytoplankton was grown under two future mixing scenarios based on current climate model predictions. Mixing was simulated by changes in light and Fe availabilities. The two future scenarios consisted of a low mixing scenario (low Fe and higher light) and a strong mixing scenario (high Fe and low light). In addition, communities of each mixing scenario were exposed to ambient and low pH, the latter simulating ocean acidification (OA). The effects of the scenarios on particulate organic carbon (POC) production, trace metal to carbon ratios, photophysiology and the relative numerical contribution of diatoms and nanoflagellates were assessed. During the first growth phase, at ambient pH both future mixing scenarios promoted the numerical abundance of diatoms (∼75%) relative to nanoflagellates. This positive effect, however, vanished in response to OA in the communities of both future mixing scenarios (∼65%), with different effects for their productivity. At the end of the experiment, diatoms remained numerically the most abundant phytoplankton group across all treatments (∼80%). In addition, POC production was increased in the two future mixing scenarios under OA. Overall, this study suggests a continued numerical dominance of diatoms as well as higher carbon fixation in response to both future mixing scenarios under OA, irrespective of different changes in light and Fe availability.

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Upper environmental pCO2 drives sensitivity to ocean acidification in marine invertebrates

Minimizing the impact of ocean acidification requires an understanding of species responses and environmental variability of population habitats. Whereas the literature is growing rapidly, emerging results suggest unresolved species- or population-specific responses. Here we present a meta-analysis synthesizing experimental studies examining the effects of pCO2 on biological traits in marine invertebrates. At the sampling locations of experimental animals, we determined environmental pCO2 conditions by integrating data from global databases and pCO2 measurements from buoys. Experimental pCO2 scenarios were compared with upper pCO2 using an index considering the upper environmental pCO2. For most taxa, a statistically significant negative linear relationship was observed between this index and mean biological responses, indicating that the impact of a given experimental pCO2 scenario depends on the deviation from the upper pCO2 level experienced by local populations. Our results highlight the importance of local biological adaptation and the need to consider present pCO2 natural variability while interpreting experimental results.

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Ocean acidification alters the nutritional value of Antarctic diatoms

  • Primary production in the Southern Ocean is dominated by diatom-rich phytoplankton assemblages, whose individual physiological characteristics and community composition are strongly shaped by the environment, yet knowledge on how diatoms allocate cellular energy in response to ocean acidification (OA) is limited. Understanding such changes in allocation is integral to determining the nutritional quality of diatoms and the subsequent impacts on the trophic transfer of energy and nutrients.
  • Using synchrotron-based Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy, we analysed the macromolecular content of selected individual diatom taxa from a natural Antarctic phytoplankton community exposed to a gradient of fCO2 levels (288–1263 µatm).
  • Strong species-specific differences in macromolecular partitioning were observed under OA. Large taxa showed preferential energy allocation towards proteins, while smaller taxa increased both lipid and protein stores at high fCO2.
  • If these changes are representative of future Antarctic diatom physiology, we may expect a shift away from lipid-rich large diatoms towards a community dominated by smaller taxa, but with higher lipid and protein stores than their present-day contemporaries, a response that could have cascading effects on food web dynamics in the Antarctic marine ecosystem.
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Can heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) serve as biomarkers in Antarctica for future ocean acidification, warming and salinity stress?

The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth. Elevated sea water temperatures cause glacier and sea ice melting. When icebergs melt into the ocean, it “freshens” the saltwater around them, reducing its salinity. The oceans absorb excess anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) causing decline in ocean pH, a process known as ocean acidification. Many marine organisms are specifically affected by ocean warming, freshening and acidification. Due to the sensitivity of Antarctica to global warming, using biomarkers is the best way for scientists to predict more accurately future climate change and provide useful information or ecological risk assessments. The 70-kilodalton (kDa) heat shock protein (HSP70) chaperones have been used as biomarkers of stress in temperate and tropical environments. The induction of the HSP70 genes (Hsp70) that alter intracellular proteins in living organisms is a signal triggered by environmental temperature changes. Induction of Hsp70 has been observed both in eukaryotes and in prokaryotes as response to environmental stressors including increased and decreased temperature, salinity, pH and the combined effects of changes in temperature, acidification and salinity stress. Generally, HSP70s play critical roles in numerous complex processes of metabolism; their synthesis can usually be increased or decreased during stressful conditions. However, there is a question as to whether HSP70s may serve as excellent biomarkers in the Antarctic considering the long residence time of Antarctic organisms in a cold polar environment which appears to have greatly modified the response of heat responding transcriptional systems. This review provides insight into the vital roles of HSP70 that make them ideal candidates as biomarkers for identifying resistance and resilience in response to abiotic stressors associated with climate change, which are the effects of ocean warming, freshening and acidification in Antarctic organisms.

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The Southern Ocean diatom Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata flourished better under simulated glacial than interglacial ocean conditions: combined effects of CO2 and iron

The ‘Iron Hypothesis’ suggests a fertilization of the Southern Ocean by increased dust deposition in glacial times. This promoted high primary productivity and contributed to lower atmospheric pCO2. In this study, the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata, known to form prominent blooms in the Southern Ocean, was grown under simulated glacial and interglacial climatic conditions to understand how iron (Fe) availability (no Fe or Fe addition) in conjunction with different pCO2 levels (190 and 290 μatm) influences growth, particulate organic carbon (POC) production and photophysiology. Under both glacial and interglacial conditions, the diatom grew with similar rates. In comparison, glacial conditions (190 μatm pCO2 and Fe input) favored POC production by Psubcurvata while under interglacial conditions (290 μatm pCO2 and Fe deficiency) POC production was reduced, indicating a negative effect caused by higher pCO2 and low Fe availability. Under interglacial conditions, the diatom had, however, thicker silica shells. Overall, our results show that the combination of higher Fe availability with low pCO2, present during the glacial ocean, was beneficial for the diatom Psubcurvata, thus contributing more to primary production during glacial compared to interglacial times. Under the interglacial ocean conditions, on the other hand, the diatom could have contributed to higher carbon export due to its higher degree of silicification.

Continue reading ‘The Southern Ocean diatom Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata flourished better under simulated glacial than interglacial ocean conditions: combined effects of CO2 and iron’

Strong Southern Ocean carbon uptake evident in airborne observations

Up in the air

Understanding ocean-atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes in the Southern Ocean is necessary for quantifying the global CO2 budget, but measurements in the harsh conditions there make collecting good data difficult, so a quantitative picture still is out of reach. Long et al. present measurements of atmospheric CO2 concentrations made by aircraft and show that the annual net flux of carbon into the ocean south of 45°S is large, with stronger summertime uptake and less wintertime outgassing than other recent observations have indicated. —HJS

Abstract

The Southern Ocean plays an important role in determining atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), yet estimates of air-sea CO2 flux for the region diverge widely. In this study, we constrained Southern Ocean air-sea CO2 exchange by relating fluxes to horizontal and vertical CO2 gradients in atmospheric transport models and applying atmospheric observations of these gradients to estimate fluxes. Aircraft-based measurements of the vertical atmospheric CO2 gradient provide robust flux constraints. We found an annual mean flux of –0.53 ± 0.23 petagrams of carbon per year (net uptake) south of 45°S during the period 2009–2018. This is consistent with the mean of atmospheric inversion estimates and surface-ocean partial pressure of CO2 (PCO2)–based products, but our data indicate stronger annual mean uptake than suggested by recent interpretations of profiling float observations.

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Under pressure: nanoplastics as a further stressor for sub-Antarctic pteropods already tackling ocean acidification

In the Southern Ocean (SO), plastic debris has already been found in waters and sediments. Nanoplastics (<1 μm) are expected to be as pervasive as their larger counterparts, but more harmful to biological systems, being able to enter cells and provoke toxicity. In the SO, (nano)plastic pollution occurs concomitantly with other environmental threats such as ocean acidification (OA), but the potential cumulative impact of these two challenges on SO marine ecosystems is still overlooked. Here the single and combined effects of nanoplastics and OA on the sub-Antarctic pteropod Limacina retroversa are investigated under laboratory conditions, using two surface charged polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) as a proxy for nanoplastics. Sub-Antarctic pteropods are threatened by OA due to the sensitivity of their shells to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. Short-term exposure (48 h) to PS NPs compromised the ability of pteropods to counteract OA stress, resulting in a negative effect on their survival. Our results highlights the importance of addressing plastic pollution in the context of climate change to identify realistic critical thresholds of SO pteropods.

Continue reading ‘Under pressure: nanoplastics as a further stressor for sub-Antarctic pteropods already tackling ocean acidification’

Strong Southern Ocean carbon uptake evident in airborne observations

Up in the air

Understanding ocean-atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes in the Southern Ocean is necessary for quantifying the global CO2 budget, but measurements in the harsh conditions there make collecting good data difficult, so a quantitative picture still is out of reach. Long et al. present measurements of atmospheric CO2 concentrations made by aircraft and show that the annual net flux of carbon into the ocean south of 45°S is large, with stronger summertime uptake and less wintertime outgassing than other recent observations have indicated. —HJS

Abstract

The Southern Ocean plays an important role in determining atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), yet estimates of air-sea CO2 flux for the region diverge widely. In this study, we constrained Southern Ocean air-sea CO2 exchange by relating fluxes to horizontal and vertical CO2 gradients in atmospheric transport models and applying atmospheric observations of these gradients to estimate fluxes. Aircraft-based measurements of the vertical atmospheric CO2 gradient provide robust flux constraints. We found an annual mean flux of –0.53 ± 0.23 petagrams of carbon per year (net uptake) south of 45°S during the period 2009–2018. This is consistent with the mean of atmospheric inversion estimates and surface-ocean partial pressure of CO2 (PCO2)–based products, but our data indicate stronger annual mean uptake than suggested by recent interpretations of profiling float observations.

Continue reading ‘Strong Southern Ocean carbon uptake evident in airborne observations’

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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HPLC-DAD purification and characterization of meta-cresol-purple for spectrophotometric seawater pH measurements

High-quality pH measurements are essential for observing ocean acidification and interpreting its chemical and ecological effects. Spectrophotometric measure is the preferred method for pH analysis of seawater because of its high reproducibility and excellent precision. Meta-cresol purple (mCP) is one of the most used indicator dyes for spectrophotometric pH determination. Impurities in indicator salts can significantly bias spectrophotometric pH determinations, and therefore the use of purified mCP is recommended. This work describes the use of a fast, simple, and green-friendly High-Performance-Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) procedure for purification of mCP dye solution. A C18 reversed phase column was used, and different compositions of the mobile phase were considered. The selected mobile phase was 85% Milli-Q water and 15% CH3CN pH 8.0 that allowed reasonable run time and a suitable purified mCP retention time (4.65 ± 0.005 min). Aliquots of purified mCP were mixed and evaporated by rotary evaporator that resulted in the fastest preconcentration procedure among those considered in this study. Purified mCP was used for measuring the pH in seawater samples collected in the Ross Sea (Antarctica) and the values ranged between 8.202 and 7.983, with the highest values at the surface.

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Calcium carbonate saturation states along the West Antarctic Peninsula

The waters along the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) have experienced warming and increased freshwater inputs from melting sea ice and glaciers in recent decades. Challenges exist in understanding the consequences of these changes on the inorganic carbon system in this ecologically important and highly productive ecosystem. Distributions of dissolved inorganic carbon (CT), total alkalinity (AT) and nutrients revealed key physical, biological and biogeochemical controls of the calcium carbonate saturation state (Ωaragonite) in different water masses across the WAP shelf during the summer. Biological production in spring and summer dominated changes in surface water Ωaragonite (ΔΩaragonite up to +1.39; ~90%) relative to underlying Winter Water. Sea-ice and glacial meltwater constituted a minor source of AT that increased surface water Ωaragonite (ΔΩaragonite up to +0.07; ~13%). Remineralization of organic matter and an influx of carbon-rich brines led to cross-shelf decreases in Ωaragonite in Winter Water and Circumpolar Deep Water. A strong biological carbon pump over the shelf created Ωaragonite oversaturation in surface waters and suppression of Ωaragonite in subsurface waters. Undersaturation of aragonite occurred at < ~1000 m. Ongoing changes along the WAP will impact the biologically driven and meltwater-driven processes that influence the vulnerability of shelf waters to calcium carbonate undersaturation in the future.

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Emiliania huxleyi biometry and calcification response to the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean environmental gradients

Highlights

  • E. huxleyi morphotypes morphological variations in the SO
  • E. huxleyi extracellular overcalcification prominent in high latitude SO
  • E. huxleyi overcalcified coccosphers show extracellular Ca + Mg precipitation.
  • E. huxleyi may pre-adapted to changing carbonate chemistry.

Abstract

An increase in the atmospheric pCO2 and temperature is expected to reduce ocean CO32− concentration, make oceans warmer and alter ocean circulation patterns. This will also affect the production and biogeographic distribution of marine calcifying organisms including coccolithophores. The lowering of oceanic CO32− is expected to interfere with the coccolithophore calcification process and cause malformation of coccoliths, whereas changes in the oceanic temperature and circulation patterns may shift their biogeographic boundaries. In this study, we have investigated Emiliania huxleyi coccolith and coccosphere size response to the wide-ranging physico-chemical conditions of the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean between latitudes 38oS and 58oS during the austral summer of 2010 (January–February). This study helps to understand the response of E. huxleyi coccolith/coccosphere morphometry and mass changes to the fluctuating temperature, salinity, CO32−, pCO2, and nutrient values. Our results show that in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean, E. huxleyi coccoliths are larger and coccospheres are smaller in the Subtropical Zone (STZ). In contrast, coccoliths size is smaller and coccospheres size is larger in the Subantarctic Zone (SAZ), which is due to the decrease in Sea Surface Temperature, Sea Surface Salinity and increase in nutrient concentrations. In the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean, E. huxleyi shows a north-to-south morphotype shift from the heavily calcified ‘Group A’ (E. huxleyi morphotype A) to the weakly calcified ‘Group B’ (E. huxleyi morphotypes B/C, C) forms. We demonstrate that although weakly calcified E. huxleyi morphotypes (morphotypes B/C and C) comprise less mass than that of the E. huxleyi morphotype A, due to the large-sized coccospheres and numerous coccoliths per coccosphere, ‘Group B’ coccospheres precipitate large amount of CaCO3 in the SAZ compared to ‘Group A’ coccospheres located in the STZ. We have documented the presence of large E. huxleyi overcalcified coccospheres with large-sized coccoliths in the southernmost cold, high pCO2, and nutrient-rich waters which show extracellular calcite precipitation. The energy dispersive spectrometry analysis indicates the presence of a large amount of Mg in the overcalcified E. huxleyi specimens. We suspect that E. huxleyi in the colder nutrient-rich waters, with future projected changes in the carbonate chemistry, may adapt to low pH, high pCO2 conditions through extracellular Ca and Mg mineralization.

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Lithium elemental and isotope systematics of modern and cultured brachiopods: implications for seawater evolution

Lithium has proven a powerful tracer of weathering processes and chemical seawater evolution. Skeletal components of marine calcifying organisms, and in particular brachiopods, present promising archives of Li signatures. However, Li incorporation mechanisms and potential influence from biological processes or environmental conditions require a careful assessment. In order to constrain Li systematics in brachiopod shells, we present Li concentrations and isotope compositions for 11 calcitic brachiopod species collected from six different geographic regions, paralleled with data from culturing experiments where brachiopods were grown under varying environmental conditions and seawater chemistry (pH–pCO2, temperature, Mg/Ca ratio). The recent brachiopod specimens collected across different temperate and polar environments showed broadly consistent δ7Li values ranging from 25.2 to 28.1‰ (with mean δ7Li of 26.9 ± 1.5‰), irrespective of taxonomic rank, indicating that incorporation of Li isotopes into brachiopod shells is not strongly affected by vital effects related to differences among species. This results in Δ7Licalcite–seawater values (per mil difference in 7Li/6Li between brachiopod calcite shell and seawater) from −2.9‰ to −5.8‰ (with mean Δ7Licalcite–seawater value of −3.6‰), which is larger than the Δ7Licalcite–seawater values calculated based on data from planktonic foraminifera (~0‰ to ~−4‰). This range of values is further supported by results from brachiopods cultured experimentally. Under controlled culturing conditions simulating the natural marine environment, the Δ7Licalcite–seawater for Magellania venosa was −2.5‰ and not affected by an increase in temperature from 10 to 16 °C. In contrast, a decrease in Mg/Ca (or Li/Ca) ratio of seawater by addition of CaCl2 as well as elevated pCO2, and hence low-pH conditions, resulted in an increased Δ7Licalcite-seawater up to −4.6‰. Collectively, our results indicate that brachiopods represent valuable archives and provide an envelope for robust Li-based reconstruction of seawater evolution over the Phanerozoic.

Continue reading ‘Lithium elemental and isotope systematics of modern and cultured brachiopods: implications for seawater evolution’

Integrated assessment of ocean acidification risks to pteropods in the Northern high latitudes: regional comparison of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity

Exposure to the impact of ocean acidification (OA) is increasing in high-latitudinal productive habitats. Pelagic calcifying snails (pteropods), a significant component of the diet of economically important fish, are found in high abundance in these regions. Pteropods have thin shells that readily dissolve at low aragonite saturation state (Ωar), making them susceptible to OA. Here, we conducted a first integrated risk assessment for pteropods in the Eastern Pacific subpolar gyre, the Gulf of Alaska (GoA), Bering Sea, and Amundsen Gulf. We determined the risk for pteropod populations by integrating measures of OA exposure, biological sensitivity, and resilience. Exposure was based on physical-chemical hydrographic observations and regional biogeochemical model outputs, delineating seasonal and decadal changes in carbonate chemistry conditions. Biological sensitivity was based on pteropod morphometrics and shell-building processes, including shell dissolution, density and thickness. Resilience and adaptive capacity were based on species diversity and spatial connectivity, derived from the particle tracking modeling. Extensive shell dissolution was found in the central and western part of the subpolar gyre, parts of the Bering Sea, and Amundsen Gulf. We identified two distinct morphotypes: L. helicina helicina and L. helicina pacifica, with high-spired and flatter shells, respectively. Despite the presence of different morphotypes, genetic analyses based on mitochondrial haplotypes identified a single species, without differentiation between the morphological forms, coinciding with evidence of widespread spatial connectivity. We found that shell morphometric characteristics depends on omega saturation state (Ωar); under Ωar decline, pteropods build flatter and thicker shells, which is indicative of a certain level of phenotypic plasticity. An integrated risk evaluation based on multiple approaches assumes a high risk for pteropod population persistence with intensification of OA in the high latitude eastern North Pacific because of their known vulnerability, along with limited evidence of species diversity despite their connectivity and our current lack of sufficient knowledge of their adaptive capacity. Such a comprehensive understanding would permit improved prediction of ecosystem change relevant to effective fisheries resource management, as well as a more robust foundation for monitoring ecosystem health and investigating OA impacts in high-latitudinal habitats.

Continue reading ‘Integrated assessment of ocean acidification risks to pteropods in the Northern high latitudes: regional comparison of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity’

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