Posts Tagged 'Baltic'

Ship emissions and the use of current air cleaning technology: contributions to air pollution and acidification in the Baltic Sea

The shipping sector is a significant contributor to emissions of air pollutants in marine and coastal regions. In order to achieve sustainable shipping, primarily through new regulations and techniques, greater knowledge of dispersion and deposition of air pollutants is required. Regional model calculations of the dispersion and concentration of sulfur, nitrogen, and particulate matter, as well as deposition of oxidized sulfur and nitrogen from the international maritime sector in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, have been made for the years 2011 to 2013. The contribution from shipping is highest along shipping lanes and near large ports for concentration and dry deposition. Sulfur is the most important pollutant coupled to shipping. The contribution of both SO2 concentration and dry deposition of sulfur represented up to 80 % of the total in some regions. WHO guidelines for annual concentrations were not trespassed for any analysed pollutant, other than PM2.5 in the Netherlands, Belgium, and central Poland. However, due to the resolution of the numerical model, 50 km  ×  50 km, there may be higher concentrations locally close to intense shipping lanes. Wet deposition is more spread and less sensitive to model resolution. The contribution of wet deposition of sulfur and nitrogen from shipping was up to 30 % of the total wet deposition. Comparison of simulated to measured concentration at two coastal stations close to shipping lanes showed some underestimations and missed maximums, probably due to resolution of the model and underestimated ship emissions.

A change in regulation for maximum sulfur content in maritime fuel, in 2015 from 1 to 0.1 %, decreases the atmospheric sulfur concentration and deposition significantly. However, due to costs related to refining, the cleaning of exhausts through scrubbers has become a possible economic solution. Open-loop scrubbers meet the air quality criteria but their consequences for the marine environment are largely unknown. The resulting potential of future acidification in the Baltic Sea, both from atmospheric deposition and from scrubber water along the shipping lanes, based on different assumptions about sulfur content in fuel, scrubber usage, and increased shipping density has been assessed. The increase in deposition for different shipping and scrubber scenarios differs for the basins in the Baltic Sea, with highest potential of acidification in the southern basins with high traffic. The proportion of ocean-acidifying sulfur from ships increases when taking scrubber water into account and the major reason for increasing acidifying nitrogen from ships is increasing ship traffic. Also, with the implementation of emission control for nitrogen, the effect of scrubbers on acidification is evident. This study also generates a database of shipping and scrubber scenarios for atmospheric deposition and scrubber exhaust from the period 2011 to 2050.

Continue reading ‘Ship emissions and the use of current air cleaning technology: contributions to air pollution and acidification in the Baltic Sea’

Calcification in a marginal sea – influence of seawater [Ca2+] and carbonate chemistry on bivalve shell formation

In estuarine coastal systems such as the Baltic Sea, mussels suffer from low salinity which limits their distribution. Anthropogenic climate change is expected to cause further desalination which will lead to local extinctions of mussels in the low saline areas. It is commonly accepted that mussel distribution is limited by osmotic stress. However, along the salinity gradient environmental conditions for biomineralization are successively becoming more adverse as a result of reduced [Ca2+] and dissolved inorganic carbon (CT) availability. In larvae, calcification is an essential process starting during early development with formation of the prodissoconch I (PD I) shell which is completed under optimal conditions within 2 days.

Experimental manipulations of seawater [Ca2+] start to impair PD I formation in Mytilus larvae at concentrations below 3 mM, which corresponds to conditions present in the Baltic at salinities below 8 g kg-1. In addition, lowering dissolved inorganic carbon to critical concentrations (< 1 mM) similarly affected PD I size which was well correlated with calculated ΩAragonite and [Ca2+][HCO3]/[H+] in all treatments. Comparing results for larvae from the western Baltic with a population from the central Baltic revealed significantly higher tolerance of PD I formation to lowered [Ca2+] and [Ca2+][HCO3]/[H+] in the low saline adapted population. This may result from genetic adaptation to the more adverse environmental conditions prevailing in the low saline areas of the Baltic.

The combined effects of lowered [Ca2+] and adverse carbonate chemistry represent major limiting factors for bivalve calcification and can thereby contribute to distribution limits of mussels in the Baltic Sea.

Continue reading ‘Calcification in a marginal sea – influence of seawater [Ca2+] and carbonate chemistry on bivalve shell formation’

Differing responses of the estuarine bivalve Limecola balthica to lowered water pH caused by potential CO2 leaks from a sub-seabed storage site in the Baltic Sea: an experimental study


  • CO2-induced seawater acidification affected behavioral and physiological traits of Limecola balthica from the Baltic Sea.
  • In response to hypercapnia, the bivalves approached the sediment surface and increased respiration rates.
  • Lower seawater pH reduced shell weight and growth, and increased soft tissue weight that places L. balthica in a unique position among marine invertebrates.


Sub-Seabed CCS is regarded as a key technology for the reduction of CO2 emissions, but little is known about the mechanisms through which leakages from storage sites impact benthic species. In this study, the biological responses of the infaunal bivalve Limecola balthica to CO2-induced seawater acidification (pH 7.7, 7.0, and 6.3) were quantified in 56-day mesocosm experiments. Increased water acidity caused changes in behavioral and physiological traits, but even the most acidic conditions did not prove to be fatal. In response to hypercapnia, the bivalves approached the sediment surface and increased respiration rates. Lower seawater pH reduced shell weight and growth, while it simultaneously increased soft tissue weight; this places L. balthica in a somewhat unique position among marine invertebrates.

Continue reading ‘Differing responses of the estuarine bivalve Limecola balthica to lowered water pH caused by potential CO2 leaks from a sub-seabed storage site in the Baltic Sea: an experimental study’

The potential future contribution of shipping to acidification of the Baltic Sea

International regulation of the emission of acidic sulphur and nitrogen oxides from commercial shipping has focused on the risks to human health, with little attention paid to the consequences for the marine environment. The introduction of stricter regulations in northern Europe has led to substantial investment in scrubbers that absorb the sulphur oxides in a counterflow of seawater. This paper examines the consequences of smokestack and scrubber release of acidic oxides in the Baltic Sea according to a range of scenarios for the coming decades. While shipping is projected to become a major source of strong acid deposition to the Baltic Sea by 2050, the long-term effect on the pH and alkalinity is projected to be significantly smaller than estimated from previous scoping studies. A significant contribution to this difference is the efficient export of surface water acidification to the North Sea on a timescale of 15–20 years.

Continue reading ‘The potential future contribution of shipping to acidification of the Baltic Sea’

Variable metabolic responses of Skagerrak invertebrates to low O2 and high CO2 scenarios

Coastal hypoxia is a problem that is predicted to increase rapidly in the future. At the same time we are facing rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which are increasing the pCO2 and acidity of coastal waters. These two drivers are well studied in isolation however; the coupling of low O2 and pH is likely to provide a more significant respiratory challenge for slow moving and sessile invertebrates than is currently predicted. The Gullmar Fjord in Sweden is home to a range of habitats such as sand and mud flats, seagrass beds, exposed and protected shorelines, and rocky bottoms. Moreover, it has a history of both natural and anthropogenically enhanced hypoxia as well as North Sea upwelling, where salty water reaches the surface towards the end of summer and early autumn. A total of 11 species (Crustacean, Chordate, Echinoderm and Mollusc) of these ecosystems were exposed to four different treatments (high/low oxygen and low/high CO2; varying pCO2 of 450 and 1300 ppm and O2 concentrations of 2–3.5 and 9–10 mg L−1) and respiration measured after 3 and 6 days, respectively. This allows us to evaluate respiration responses of species of contrasting habitats and life-history strategies to single and multiple stressors. Results show that the responses of the respiration were highly species specific as we observed both synergetic as well as antagonistic responses, and neither phylum nor habitat explained trends in respiratory responses. Management plans should avoid the generalized assumption that combined stressors will results in multiplicative effects and focus attention on alleviating hypoxia in the region.
Continue reading ‘Variable metabolic responses of Skagerrak invertebrates to low O2 and high CO2 scenarios’

Intense pCO2 and [O2] oscillations in a mussel-seagrass habitat: implications for calcification

Numerous studies have been conducted on the effect of ocean acidification on calcifiers inhabiting nearshore benthic habitats, such as the blue mussel Mytilus edulis. The majority of these experiments was performed under stable CO2 partial pressure (pCO2), carbonate chemistry and oxygen (O2) levels, reflecting present or expected future open ocean conditions. Consequently, levels and variations occurring in coastal habitats, due to biotic and abiotic processes, were mostly neglected, even though these variations largely override global long-term trends. To highlight this hiatus and guide future research, state-of-the-art technologies were deployed to obtain high-resolution time series of pCO2 and [O2] on a mussel patch within a Zostera marina seagrass bed, in Kiel Bay (western Baltic Sea) in August and September 2013. Combining the in situ data with results of discrete sample measurements, a full seawater carbonate chemistry was derived using statistical models. An average pCO2 more than 50 % (~ 640 µatm) higher than current atmospheric levels was found right above the mussel patch. Diel amplitudes of pCO2 were large: 765 ± 310 (mean ± SD). Corrosive conditions for calcium carbonates (Ωarag and Ωcalc < 1) centered on sunrise were found, but the investigated habitat never experienced hypoxia throughout the study period. It is estimated that mussels experience conditions limiting calcification for 12–15 h per day, based on a regional calcium carbonate concentration physiological threshold. Our findings call for more extensive experiments on the impact of fluctuating corrosive conditions on mussels. We also stress the complexity of the interpretation of carbonate chemistry time series data in such dynamic coastal environments.
Continue reading ‘Intense pCO2 and [O2] oscillations in a mussel-seagrass habitat: implications for calcification’

Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)

Ocean acidification resulting from the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) by the ocean is considered a major threat to marine ecosystems. Here we examined the effects of ocean acidification on microbial community dynamics in the eastern Baltic Sea during the summer of 2012 when inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus were strongly depleted. Large-volume in situ mesocosms were employed to mimic present, future and far future CO2 scenarios. All six groups of phytoplankton enumerated by flow cytometry ( <  20 µm cell diameter) showed distinct trends in net growth and abundance with CO2 enrichment. The picoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups Pico-I and Pico-II displayed enhanced abundances, whilst Pico-III, Synechococcus and the nanoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups were negatively affected by elevated fugacity of CO2 (fCO2). Specifically, the numerically dominant eukaryote, Pico-I, demonstrated increases in gross growth rate with increasing fCO2 sufficient to double its abundance. The dynamics of the prokaryote community closely followed trends in total algal biomass despite differential effects of fCO2 on algal groups. Similarly, viral abundances corresponded to prokaryotic host population dynamics. Viral lysis and grazing were both important in controlling microbial abundances. Overall our results point to a shift, with increasing fCO2, towards a more regenerative system with production dominated by small picoeukaryotic phytoplankton.

Continue reading ‘Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book