Posts Tagged 'Arctic'

Assessing the vulnerability of marine mammal subsistence species in the Bering Sea to climate change

The Bering Sea is a highly productive region of the Pacific Arctic. Native Alaskan communities rely heavily on the marine resources of the Bering Sea for survival. The timing of the formation and thaw of sea ice each year has a significant impact on the structure of the Bering Sea ecosystem. In its current state, the northern Bering Sea is a benthic-dominated ecosystem that supports many species of marine invertebrates, fish, birds, and mammals. Eight of these mammal species are relied on heavily by Native Alaskans for subsistence. However, this region is already experiencing the effects of climate change in ways that threaten the persistence of these communities as a result of changes in the timing of sea ice advance and retreat. As these changes progress, understanding the ways in which the ecosystem is vulnerable to climate change will be essential for resource managers and local communities to prepare to adapt. Climate change vulnerability analyses (CCVAs) provide a framework for quantifying vulnerability that can be useful for developing, implementing, and monitoring management solutions to reduce vulnerability. This study uses a CCVA to quantify the vulnerability of eight species of marine mammals in the Bering Sea as a first step in understanding how the communities that rely on them for subsistence are also vulnerable. Although some species are more vulnerable than others, this method allows managers to pinpoint sources of vulnerability for each one to develop strategies for reducing their vulnerability.

Continue reading ‘Assessing the vulnerability of marine mammal subsistence species in the Bering Sea to climate change’

Acoustic signal and noise changes in the Beaufort Sea Pacific Water duct under anticipated future acidification of Arctic Ocean waters

It is predicted that Arctic Ocean acidity will increase during the next century as a result of carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere and migration into ocean waters. This change has implications for sound transmission because low-pH seawater absorbs less sound than high-pH water. Altered pH will affect sound in the 0.3−10 kHz range if the criterion is met that absorption is the primary cause of attenuation, rather than the alternatives of loss in the ice or seabed. Recent work has exploited sound that meets the criterion, sound trapped in a Beaufort Sea duct composed of Pacific Winter Water underlying Pacific Summer Water. Arctic pH is expected to drop from 8.1 to 7.9 (approximately) over the next 30−50 yr, and effects of this chemical alteration on the intensity levels of this ducted sound, and on noise, are examined here. Sound near 900 Hz is predicted to undergo the greatest change, traveling up to 38% further. At ranges of 100−300 km, sound levels from a source in the duct may increase by 7 dB or more. Noise would also increase, but noise is ducted less efficiently, with the result that 1 kHz noise is predicted to rise approximately 0.5 dB.

Continue reading ‘Acoustic signal and noise changes in the Beaufort Sea Pacific Water duct under anticipated future acidification of Arctic Ocean waters’

Bottom water acidification and warming on the Western Eurasian Arctic shelves: dynamical downscaling projections

The impacts of oceanic CO2 uptake and global warming on the surface ocean environment have received substantial attention, but few studies have focused on shelf bottom water, despite its importance as habitat for benthic organisms and demersal fisheries such as cod. We used a downscaling ocean biogeochemical model to project bottom water acidification and warming on the western Eurasian Arctic shelves. A model hindcast produced 14‒18 year acidification trends that were largely consistent with observational estimates at stations in the Iceland and Irminger seas. Projections under SRES A1B scenario revealed a rapid and spatially-variable decline in bottom pH by 0.10‒0.20 units over 50 years (2.5–97.5% quantiles) at depths 50–500 m on the Norwegian, Barents, Kara, and East Greenland shelves. Bottom water undersaturation with respect to aragonite occurred over the entire Kara shelf by 2040 and over most of the Barents and East Greenland shelves by 2070. Shelf acidification was predominantly driven by the accumulation of anthropogenic CO2, and was concurrent with warming of 0.1–2.7°C over 50 years. These combined perturbations will act as significant multistressors on the Barents and Kara shelves. Future studies should aim to improve the resolution of shelf bottom processes in models, and should consider the Kara Sea and Russian shelves as possible bellwethers of shelf acidification.

Continue reading ‘Bottom water acidification and warming on the Western Eurasian Arctic shelves: dynamical downscaling projections’

Implications of ocean acidification in the Pacific Arctic: Experimental responses of three Arctic bivalves to decreased pH and food availability

Recent sea ice retreat and seawater warming in the Pacific Arctic are physical changes that are impacting arctic biological communities. Recently, ocean acidification from increases in anthropogenic CO2 has been identified as an additional stressor, particularly to calcifying organisms like bivalves. These bivalves are common prey items for benthivorous predators such as Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus), and diving seaducks, such as Spectacled Eiders (Somateria fischeri) ( Moore et al. 2014). We investigated the effects of decreased pH and food availability on growth (% change in length and wet weight and allometric growth characterizations) and oxygen consumption (mg/L/hour) of three common Arctic bivalves, Macoma calcarea, Astarte montagui, and Astarte borealis. Two sets of experiments were run for seven and eleven weeks, exposing the bivalves to control (8.05 ± 0.02 and 8.19 ± 0.003, respectively) and acidified (7.76 ± 0.01 and 7.86 ± 0.01, respectively) pH treatments. Length, weight, and oxygen consumption were not significantly different among the varying treatments after the seven-week exposure and only one significant effect of decreased pH and one significant effect of decreased food availability were observed after the end of the eleven-week exposure. Specifically, shells of A. borealis displayed a decrease in length in response to decreased pH and M. calcarea showed a decrease in length in response to limited food. The negative effects of pH observed in the experiments on growth and oxygen consumption were small, suggesting that at least two of these species are generally resilient to decreasing pH.

Continue reading ‘Implications of ocean acidification in the Pacific Arctic: Experimental responses of three Arctic bivalves to decreased pH and food availability’

Contrasting physiological responses to future ocean acidification among Arctic copepod populations

Widespread ocean acidification (OA) is modifying the chemistry of the global ocean, and the Arctic is recognised as the region where the changes will progress at the fastest rate. Moreover, Arctic species show lower capacity for cellular homeostasis and acid-base regulation rendering them particularly vulnerable to OA. In the present study, we found physiological differences in OA response across geographically separated populations of the keystone Arctic copepod Calanus glacialis. In copepodite stage CIV, measured reaction norms of ingestion rate and metabolic rate showed severe reductions in ingestion and increased metabolic expenses in two populations from Svalbard (Kongsfjord and Billefjord) whereas no effects were observed in a population from the Disko Bay, West Greenland. At pHT 7.87, which has been predicted for the Svalbard west coast by year 2100, these changes resulted in reductions in scope for growth of 19% in the Kongsfjord and a staggering 50% in the Billefjord. Interestingly, these effects were not observed in stage CV copepodites from any of the three locations. It seems that CVs may be more tolerant to OA perhaps due to a general physiological reorganisation to meet low intracellular pH during hibernation. Needless to say, the observed changes in the CIV stage will have serious implications for the C. glacialis population health status and growth around Svalbard. However, OA tolerant populations such as the one in the Disko Bay could help to alleviate severe effects in C. glacialis as a species.

Continue reading ‘Contrasting physiological responses to future ocean acidification among Arctic copepod populations’

Phytoplankton community responses to iron and CO2 enrichment in different biogeochemical regions of the Southern Ocean

The ongoing rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is causing rapid increases in seawater pCO2levels. However, little is known about the potential impacts of elevated CO2 availability on the phytoplankton assemblages in the Southern Ocean’s oceanic regions. Therefore, we conducted four incubation experiments using surface seawater collected from the subantarctic zone (SAZ) and the subpolar zone (SPZ) in the Australian sector of the Southern Ocean during the austral summer of 2011–2012. For incubations, FeCl3 solutions were added to reduce iron (Fe) limitation for phytoplankton growth. Ambient and high (~750 µatm) CO2 treatments were then prepared with and without addition of CO2-saturated seawater, respectively. Non-Fe-added (control) treatments were also prepared to assess the effects of Fe enrichment (overall, control, Fe-added, and Fe-and-CO2-added treatments). In the initial samples, the dominant phytoplankton taxa shifted with latitude from haptophytes to diatoms, likely reflecting silicate availability in the water. Under Fe-enriched conditions, increased CO2 level significantly reduced the accumulation of biomarker pigments in haptophytes in the SAZ and AZ, whereas a significant decrease in diatom markers was only detected in the SAZ. The CO2-related changes in phytoplankton community composition were greater in the SAZ, most likely due to the decrease in coccolithophore biomass. Our results suggest that an increase in CO2, if it coincides with Fe enrichment, could differentially affect the phytoplankton community composition in different geographical regions of the Southern Ocean, depending on the locally dominant taxa and environmental conditions.

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Resistance of Arctic phytoplankton to ocean acidification and enhanced irradiance

The Arctic Ocean is a region particularly prone to ongoing ocean acidification (OA) and climate-driven changes. The influence of these changes on Arctic phytoplankton assemblages, however, remains poorly understood. In order to understand how OA and enhanced irradiances (e.g., resulting from sea–ice retreat) will alter the species composition, primary production, and eco-physiology of Arctic phytoplankton, we conducted an incubation experiment with an assemblage from Baffin Bay (71°N, 68°W) under different carbonate chemistry and irradiance regimes. Seawater was collected from just below the deep Chl a maximum, and the resident phytoplankton were exposed to 380 and 1000 µatm pCO2 at both 15 and 35% incident irradiance. On-deck incubations, in which temperatures were 6 °C above in situ conditions, were monitored for phytoplankton growth, biomass stoichiometry, net primary production, photo-physiology, and taxonomic composition. During the 8-day experiment, taxonomic diversity decreased and the diatom Chaetoceros socialis became increasingly dominant irrespective of light or CO2 levels. We found no statistically significant effects from either higher CO2 or light on physiological properties of phytoplankton during the experiment. We did, however, observe an initial 2-day stress response in all treatments, and slight photo-physiological responses to higher CO2 and light during the first five days of the incubation. Our results thus indicate high resistance of Arctic phytoplankton to OA and enhanced irradiance levels, challenging the commonly predicted stimulatory effects of enhanced CO2 and light availability for primary production.

Continue reading ‘Resistance of Arctic phytoplankton to ocean acidification and enhanced irradiance’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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