Posts Tagged 'biogeochemistry'

Meeting climate targets by direct CO2 injections: what price would the ocean have to pay? (update)

We investigate the climate mitigation potential and collateral effects of direct injections of captured CO2 into the deep ocean as a possible means to close the gap between an intermediate CO2 emissions scenario and a specific temperature target, such as the 1.5 ∘C target aimed for by the Paris Agreement. For that purpose, a suite of approaches for controlling the amount of direct CO2 injections at 3000 m water depth are implemented in an Earth system model of intermediate complexity.

Following the representative concentration pathway RCP4.5, which is a medium mitigation CO2 emissions scenario, cumulative CO2 injections required to meet the 1.5 ∘C climate goal are found to be 390 Gt C by the year 2100 and 1562 Gt C at the end of simulations, by the year 3020. The latter includes a cumulative leakage of 602 Gt C that needs to be reinjected in order to sustain the targeted global mean temperature.

CaCO3 sediment and weathering feedbacks reduce the required CO2 injections that comply with the 1.5 ∘C target by about 13 % in 2100 and by about 11 % at the end of the simulation.

With respect to the injection-related impacts we find that average pH values in the surface ocean are increased by about 0.13 to 0.18 units, when compared to the control run. In the model, this results in significant increases in potential coral reef habitats, i.e., the volume of the global upper ocean (0 to 130 m depth) with omega aragonite > 3.4 and ocean temperatures between 21 and 28 ∘C, compared to the control run. The potential benefits in the upper ocean come at the expense of strongly acidified water masses at depth, with maximum pH reductions of about −2.37 units, relative to preindustrial levels, in the vicinity of the injection sites. Overall, this study demonstrates that massive amounts of CO2 would need to be injected into the deep ocean in order to reach and maintain the 1.5 ∘C climate target in a medium mitigation scenario on a millennium timescale, and that there is a trade-off between injection-related reductions in atmospheric CO2 levels accompanied by reduced upper-ocean acidification and adverse effects on deep-ocean chemistry, particularly near the injection sites.

Continue reading ‘Meeting climate targets by direct CO2 injections: what price would the ocean have to pay? (update)’

Earthquake and typhoon trigger unprecedented transient shifts in shallow hydrothermal vents biogeochemistry

Shallow hydrothermal vents are of pivotal relevance for ocean biogeochemical cycles, including seawater dissolved heavy metals and trace elements as well as the carbonate system balance. The Kueishan Tao (KST) stratovolcano off Taiwan is associated with numerous hydrothermal vents emitting warm sulfur-rich fluids at so-called White Vents (WV) and Yellow Vent (YV) that impact the surrounding seawater masses and habitats. The morphological and biogeochemical consequences caused by a M5.8 earthquake and a C5 typhoon (“Nepartak”) hitting KST (12th May, and 2nd–10th July, 2016) were studied within a 10-year time series (2009–2018) combining aerial drone imagery, technical diving, and hydrographic surveys. The catastrophic disturbances triggered landslides that reshaped the shoreline, burying the seabed and, as a consequence, native sulfur accretions that were abundant on the seafloor disappeared. A significant reduction in venting activity and fluid flow was observed at the high-temperature YV. Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) maxima in surrounding seawater reached 3000–5000 µmol kg−1, and Total Alkalinity (TA) drawdowns were below 1500–1000 µmol kg−1 lasting for one year. A strong decrease and, in some cases, depletion of dissolved elements (Cd, Ba, Tl, Pb, Fe, Cu, As) including Mg and Cl in seawater from shallow depths to the open ocean followed the disturbance, with a recovery of Mg and Cl to pre-disturbance concentrations in 2018. The WV and YV benthic megafauna exhibited mixed responses in their skeleton Mg:Ca and Sr:Ca ratios, not always following directions of seawater chemical changes. Over 70% of the organisms increased skeleton Mg:Ca ratio during rising DIC (higher CO2) despite decreasing seawater Mg:Ca ratios showing a high level of resilience. KST benthic organisms have historically co-existed with such events providing them ecological advantages under extreme conditions. The sudden and catastrophic changes observed at the KST site profoundly reshaped biogeochemical processes in shallow and offshore waters for one year, but they remained transient in nature, with a possible recovery of the system within two years.

Continue reading ‘Earthquake and typhoon trigger unprecedented transient shifts in shallow hydrothermal vents biogeochemistry’

Ocean acidification interacts with variable light to decrease growth but increase particulate organic nitrogen production in a diatom


• Variable light decreased growth rate and pigmentation contents in both LC and HC.

• Cells grown under variable light appeared more tolerant of high light.

• HC and varying light decreased carbon fixation rate but increased POC and PON.

• HC and varying light lead to less primary productivity but more PON per biomass.


Phytoplankton in the upper oceans are exposed to changing light levels due to mixing, diurnal solar cycles and weather conditions. Consequently, effects of ocean acidification are superimposed upon responses to variable light levels. We therefore grew a model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana under either constant or variable light but at the same daily photon dose, with current low (400 μatm, LC) and future high CO2 (1000 μatm, HC) treatments. Variable light, compared with the constant light regime, decreased the growth rate, Chl a, Chl c, and carotenoid contents under both LC and HC conditions. Cells grown under variable light appeared more tolerant of high light as indicated by higher maximum relative electron transport rate and saturation light. Light variation interacted with high CO2/lowered pH to decrease the carbon fixation rate, but increased particulate organic carbon (POC) and particularly nitrogen (PON) per cell, which drove a decrease in C/N ratio, reflecting changes in the efficiency of energy transfer from photo-chemistry to net biomass production. Our results imply that elevated pCO2 under varying light conditions can lead to less primary productivity but more PON per biomass of the diatom, which might improve the food quality of diatoms and thereby influence biogeochemical nitrogen cycles.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification interacts with variable light to decrease growth but increase particulate organic nitrogen production in a diatom’

Variation of pCO2 concentrations induced by tropical cyclones “Wind-Pump” in the middle-latitude surface oceans: a comparative study

The Bermuda Testbed Mooring (BTM) and Bay of Bengal Ocean Acidification (BOBOA) mooring measurements were used to identify changes in the partial pressure of CO2 at the sea surface (pCO2sea) and air-sea CO2 fluxes (FCO2) associated with passage of two tropical cyclones (TCs), Florence and Hudhud. TC Florence passed about 165 km off the BTM mooring site with strong wind speeds of 24.8 m s–1 and translation speed of 7.23 m s–1. TC Hudhud passed about 178 km off the BOBOA mooring site with wind speeds of 14.0 m s–1 and translation speed of 2.58 m s–1. The present study examined the effect of temperature, salinity, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (TA), air-sea CO2 flux, and phytoplankton chlorophyll a change on pCO2sea as a response to TCs. Enhanced mixed layer depths were observed due to TCs-induced vertical mixing at both mooring sites. Decreased pCO2sea (–15.16±5.60 μatm) at the BTM mooring site and enhanced pCO2sea (14.81±7.03 μatm) at the BOBOA mooring site were observed after the passage of Florence and Hudhud, respectively. Both DIC and TA are strongly correlated with salinity in the upper layer of the isothermal layer depth (ILD). Strong (weak) vertical gradient in salinity is accompanied by strong (weak) vertical gradients in DIC and TA. Strong vertical salinity gradient in the upper layer of the ILD (0.031 psu m–1), that supply much salinity, dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity from the thermocline was the cause of the increased pCO2sea in the BOBOA mooring water. Weak vertical salinity gradient in the upper layer of the ILD (0.003 psu m–1) was responsible for decreasing pCO2sea in the BTM mooring water. The results of this study showed that the vertical salinity gradient in the upper layer of the ILD is a good indicator of the pCO2sea variation after the passages of TCs.

Continue reading ‘Variation of pCO2 concentrations induced by tropical cyclones “Wind-Pump” in the middle-latitude surface oceans: a comparative study’

A sediment trap evaluation of B/Ca as a carbonate system proxy in asymbiotic and nondinoflagellate hosting planktonic foraminifera

The ratio of boron to calcium (B/Ca) in a subset of foraminifera has been shown to covary with seawater carbonate chemistry, making this geochemical signature a promising proxy for carbon cycle science. Some studies suggest complications with the B/Ca proxy in photosymbiont‐bearing planktonic foraminifera, while relatively few studies have investigated B/Ca in species that lack large dinoflagellate symbionts. For the first time, we use a sediment trap time series to evaluate B/Ca of subtropical and subpolar planktonic foraminifera species that are asymbiotic (Globigerina bulloides and Neogloboquadrina incompta) and a species that hosts small intrashell photosymbionts (Neogloboquadrina dutertrei). We find that B/Ca measurements across size fractions indicate overall little to no size‐dependent uptake of boron that has previously been reported in some symbiont‐bearing foraminifera. Neogloboquadrina incompta and N. dutertrei B/Ca are strongly correlated with calcite saturation, pH, and carbonate ion concentration, which is in good agreement with the limited number of published core top results. While G. bulloides B/Ca trends with seasonal fluctuations in carbonate chemistry, during discrete periods considerable B/Ca offsets occur when a cryptic G. bulloides species is known to be seasonally present within the region. We confirm presence and significant B/Ca offset between cryptic species by individual LA‐ICP‐MS analyses. This finding calls into question the use of traditional morphological classification to lump what might be genetically distinct species for geochemical analyses. Our overall results highlight the utility of G. bulloides, N. incompta, and N. dutertrei B/Ca while bringing to light new considerations regarding divergent geochemistry of cryptic species.

Continue reading ‘A sediment trap evaluation of B/Ca as a carbonate system proxy in asymbiotic and nondinoflagellate hosting planktonic foraminifera’

The importance of environmental exposure history in forecasting Dungeness crab megalopae occurrence using J-SCOPE, a high-resolution model for the US Pacific Northwest

The Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) fishery is one of the highest value fisheries in the US Pacific Northwest, but its catch size fluctuates widely across years. Although the underlying causes of this wide variability are not well understood, the abundance of M. magister megalopae has been linked to recruitment into the adult fishery 4 years later. These pelagic megalopae are exposed to a range of ocean conditions during their dispersal period, which may drive their occurrence patterns. Environmental exposure history has been found to be important for some pelagic organisms, so we hypothesized that inclusion of recent environmental exposure history would improve our ability to predict inter-annual variability in M. magister megalopae occurrence patterns compared to using “in situ” conditions alone. We combined 8 years of local observations of M. magister megalopae and regional simulations of ocean conditions to model megalopae occurrence using a generalized linear model (GLM) framework. The modeled ocean conditions were extracted from JISAO’s Seasonal Coastal Ocean Prediction of the Ecosystem (J-SCOPE), a high-resolution coupled physical-biogeochemical model. The analysis included variables from J-SCOPE identified in the literature as important for larval crab occurrence: temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen concentration, nitrate concentration, phytoplankton concentration, pH, aragonite, and calcite saturation state. GLMs were developed with either in situ ocean conditions or environmental exposure histories generated using particle tracking experiments. We found that inclusion of exposure history improved the ability of the GLMs to predict megalopae occurrence 98% of the time. Of the six swimming behaviors used to simulate megalopae dispersal, five behaviors generated GLMs with superior fits to the observations, so a biological ensemble of these models was constructed. When the biological ensemble was used for forecasting, the model showed skill in predicting megalopae occurrence (AUC = 0.94). Our results highlight the importance of including exposure history in larval occurrence modeling and help provide a method for predicting pelagic megalopae occurrence. This work is a step toward developing a forecast product to support management of the fishery.

Continue reading ‘The importance of environmental exposure history in forecasting Dungeness crab megalopae occurrence using J-SCOPE, a high-resolution model for the US Pacific Northwest’

An assessment of reef coral calcification over the late Cenozoic

Shallow-water reef-building corals have an extensive geological record and many aspects of their evolution, biodiversity, and biogeography are known in great details. In contrast, the adaptive potential and risk of extinction of coral reefs in response to excessive warming and ocean acidification remains largely undocumented. It is well established that anthropogenic CO2 emissions cause global warming and ocean acidification (lowering of pH), which increasingly impede the biomineralization process in many marine calcareous biota. The “light-enhanced” calcification machinery of the shallow-water reef corals is particularly threatened by this development through the combined effect of a lowering of the supersaturation of seawater with CaCO3 (aragonite) and an expulsion of the symbiotic zooxanthellae (bleaching). The bleaching is of prime importance, because it interrupts the supply of DIC and metabolites required for pH upregulation within the calcification fluid. The degree of calcification in scleractinian reef corals may therefore represent a suitable tracer to assess the state of the ocean carbonate system and the photosynthetic performance of the zooxanthellae during past episodes of natural environmental change. This study presents the first comprehensive set of calcification data from corals covering the early Miocene to early Pleistocene interval (20.8 to 1.2 million years, Ma). Various screening procedures ensured that the studied coral skeletons are pristine and suited to yield meaningful stable isotope data (δ18O, δ13C) and calcification records. δ18O and δ13C values document growth environments consistent with current tropical and subtropical settings. To assess fossil calcification rates, we use a reference dataset of recent corals from the Indo-Pacific (Porites) and an independent validation dataset from the Western Atlantic-Caribbean (Orbicella). Almost all fossil corals document very low annual rates of upward growth (“extension rate”) relative to present, and lower skeletal bulk density than predicted by established modern relationships. To allow for a quantitative assessment of coral calcification performance, we use a new approach that we term the calcification anomaly. It is insensitive to sea-surface temperature and well-suited for comparative assessments of calcification performance between reef sites and over time. Based on this approach, the majority of fossil corals in our dataset displays hypo-calcification, while a few show optimal calcification and none display hyper-calcification. Compared to present-day growth conditions, the fossil calcification data show that (1) skeletogenesis responded in a fully compatible way to known environmental stresses (e.g. turbid water, elevated salinity, eutrophy), and that (2) the calcification performance within the reef window (i.e. oligotrophic clear-water settings) remained below that of modern z-corals. Since fossil coral δ13C values are compatible with those of modern reef corals, we infer that the light-enhanced calcification system of symbiotic scleractinian corals was fully established by the beginning of the Neogene and that lower-than-present calcification performance was the likely response to a chronically low pH and/or low carbonate saturation state of the global ocean. If so, the present-day saturation state appears to be rather an exception than the norm and probably not a suitable starting point for predicting future calcification trends. In addition, using trends from the geological past does not include anthropogenic side-effects such as eutrophication and pollution.

Continue reading ‘An assessment of reef coral calcification over the late Cenozoic’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book