Posts Tagged 'chemistry'

Two decades of ocean acidification in the surface waters of the Beaufort Gyre, Arctic Ocean: effects of sea ice melt and retreat from 1997‐2016

Anthropogenic CO2 uptake drives ocean acidification and so decreases the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) saturation state (Ω). Undersaturation of surface water with respect to aragonite‐type CaCO3 was first reported for 2008 in the Canada Basin, preceding other open ocean basins. This study reveals interannual variation of Ω in the surface Canada Basin before and after 2008. A rapid decrease of Ω occurred during 2003‐2007 at a rate of ‐0.09 yr‐1, 10 times faster than other open oceans. This was due to melting and retreat of sea ice, which diluted surface water and enhanced air‐sea CO2 exchange. After 2007, Ω did not further decrease, despite increasing atmospheric CO2 and continued sea ice retreat. A weakened dilution effect from sea‐ice melt and stabilized air‐sea CO2 disequilibrium state are the main reasons for this stabilization of Ω. Aragonite undersaturation has been observed for the last 11 years and aragonite shelled organisms may be threatened.

Continue reading ‘Two decades of ocean acidification in the surface waters of the Beaufort Gyre, Arctic Ocean: effects of sea ice melt and retreat from 1997‐2016’

Microscale pH and dissolved oxygen fluctuations within mussel aggregations and their implications for mussel attachment and raft aquaculture

Mussel mariculture uses the natural attachment strategy of marine mussels by allowing them to aggregate on submerged rope lines that are then pulled to the surface and harvested. Mussels attach to ropes using a network of byssal threads, proteinaceous fibers that adhere to surfaces underwater using a powerful biological glue (adhesive plaque). Plaques use the surrounding seawater as a molecular trigger during adhesive curing, a process that requires a pH greater than 7.0 and an abundance of dissolved oxygen to progress. To ascertain whether mussels experience seawater conditions that are potentially harmful to mussel attachment, this study measured the conditions within mussel aggregations at a mussel farm in Washington state and, then, applied those conditions to plaques to determine whether such conditions are sufficient to weaken attachment. Seawater monitoring demonstrated that mussels infrequently experience acidic (pH <5.0) and hypoxic excursions (O2 <2 mg L–1) in the summer, especially near the seafloor. When reproduced in laboratory assays, the most extreme pH excursions observed delayed plaque strengthening when applied early in the plaque-curing process, whereas extreme excursions in hypoxia decreased adhesion strength after the adhesive had fully matured. In either case, adhesion strength was rescued after reimmersion in open-ocean seawater conditions, highlighting the resilience of the mussel holdfast to stresses other than mechanical strain. The window of susceptibility to changes in environmental conditions during and after curing could contribute to fall-off events at mussel farms, especially in the late summer months.

Continue reading ‘Microscale pH and dissolved oxygen fluctuations within mussel aggregations and their implications for mussel attachment and raft aquaculture’

A meta-analysis of microcosm experiments shows that dimethyl sulfide (DMS) production in polar waters is insensitive to ocean acidification

Emissions of dimethylsulfide (DMS) from the polar oceans play a key role in atmospheric processes and climate. Therefore, it is important to increase our understanding of how DMS production in these regions may respond to climate change. The polar oceans are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA). However, our understanding of the polar DMS response is limited to two studies conducted in Arctic waters, where in both cases DMS concentrations decreased with increasing acidity. Here, we report on our findings from seven summertime shipboard microcosm experiments undertaken in a variety of locations in the Arctic Ocean and Southern Ocean. These experiments reveal no significant effects of short-term OA on the net production of DMS by planktonic communities. This is in contrast to similar experiments from temperate north-western European shelf waters where surface ocean communities responded to OA with significant increases in dissolved DMS concentrations. A meta-analysis of the findings from both temperate and polar waters (n=18 experiments) reveals clear regional differences in the DMS response to OA. Based on our findings, we hypothesize that the differences in DMS response between temperate and polar waters reflect the natural variability in carbonate chemistry to which the respective communities of each region may already be adapted. If so, future temperate oceans could be more sensitive to OA, resulting in an increase in DMS emissions to the atmosphere, whilst perhaps surprisingly DMS emissions from the polar oceans may remain relatively unchanged. By demonstrating that DMS emissions from geographically distinct regions may vary in their response to OA, our results may facilitate a better understanding of Earth’s future climate. Our study suggests that the way in which processes that generate DMS respond to OA may be regionally distinct, and this should be taken into account in predicting future DMS emissions and their influence on Earth’s climate.

Continue reading ‘A meta-analysis of microcosm experiments shows that dimethyl sulfide (DMS) production in polar waters is insensitive to ocean acidification’

Air–sea CO2 exchange and ocean acidification in UK seas and adjacent waters

Ongoing anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere are driving a net flux of CO2 into the ocean globally, resulting in a decline in pH called ‘ocean acidification’. Here, we discuss the consequences of this for the seas surrounding the UK from a chemical perspective, focussing on studies published since the previous MCCIP review of ocean acidification research (Williamson et al., 2017). In this reporting cycle, the biological, ecological, and socio-economic impacts of ocean acidification are considered in more detail in separate accompanying MCCIP reviews.

The atmospheric CO2 concentration continues to increase due to human activities (Le Quéré et al., 2018), increasing the net flux of CO2 into the global ocean, including the North Atlantic and UK continental shelf seas. Such CO2 uptake has the desirable effect of reducing the rate of climate change, but the undesirable result of ocean acidification. Our understanding of the factors that drive high spatial and temporal variability in air-sea CO2 fluxes and seawater pH in UK waters has continued to improve, thanks to observational campaigns both across the entire North-West European continental shelf sea and at specific time–series sites. Key challenges for the future include sustaining time–series observations of near-surface marine carbonate system variables, and of the auxiliary parameters required for their interpretation (e.g. temperature, salinity, and nutrients); developing and deploying new sensor technology for full water-column profiles and pore waters in seafloor sediments; and increasing the spatial and temporal resolution of models sufficiently to capture the complex processes that dominate the marine carbonate system in coastal and shelf sea environments, along with improving how those processes are themselves simulated.

Continue reading ‘Air–sea CO2 exchange and ocean acidification in UK seas and adjacent waters’

Antagonistic interplay between pH and food resources affects copepod traits and performance in a year-round upwelling system

Linking pH/pCO2 natural variation to phenotypic traits and performance of foundational species provides essential information for assessing and predicting the impact of ocean acidification (OA) on marine ecosystems. Yet, evidence of such linkage for copepods, the most abundant metazoans in the oceans, remains scarce, particularly for naturally corrosive Eastern Boundary Upwelling systems (EBUs). This study assessed the relationship between pH levels and traits (body and egg size) and performance (ingestion rate (IR) and egg reproduction rate (EPR)) of the numerically dominant neritic copepod Acartia tonsa, in a year-round upwelling system of the northern (23° S) Humboldt EBUs. The study revealed decreases in chlorophyll (Chl) ingestion rate, egg production rate and egg size with decreasing pH as well as egg production efficiency, but the opposite for copepod body size. Further, ingestion rate increased hyperbolically with Chl, and saturated at ~1 µg Chl. L−1. Food resources categorized as high (H, >1 µg L−1) and low (L,  7.89) and future (>400 µatm pCO2, pH < 7.89) were used to compare our observations to values globally employed to experimentally test copepod sensitivity to OA. A comparison (PERMANOVA) test with Chl/pH (2*2) design showed that partially overlapping OA levels expected for the year 2100 in other ocean regions, low-pH conditions in this system negatively impacted traits and performance associated with copepod fitness. However, interacting antagonistically with pH, food resource (Chl) maintained copepod production in spite of low pH levels. Thus, the deleterious effects of ocean acidification are modulated by resource availability in this system.

Continue reading ‘Antagonistic interplay between pH and food resources affects copepod traits and performance in a year-round upwelling system’

The northern European shelf as increasing net sink for CO2

We developed a simple method to refine existing open ocean maps towards different coastal seas. Using a multi linear regression we produced monthly maps of surface ocean fCO2 in the northern European coastal seas (North Sea, Baltic Sea, Norwegian Coast and in the Barents Sea) covering a time period from 1998 to 2016. A comparison with gridded SOCAT v5 data revealed standard deviations of the residuals 0 ± 26 μatm in the North Sea, 0 ± 16 μatm along the Norwegian Coast, 0 ± 19 μatm in the Barents Sea, and 2 ± 42 μatm in the Baltic Sea.We used these maps as basis to investigate trends in fCO2, pH and air-sea CO2 flux. The surface ocean fCO2 trends are smaller than the atmospheric trend in most of the studied region. Only the western part of the North Sea is showing an increase in fCO2 close to 2 μatm yr−1, which is similar to the atmospheric trend. The Baltic Sea does not show a significant trend. Here, the variability was much larger than possibly observable trends. Consistently, the pH trends were smaller than expected for an increase of fCO2 in pace with the rise of atmospheric CO2 levels. The calculated air-sea CO2 fluxes revealed that most regions were net sinks for CO2. Only the southern North Sea and the Baltic Sea emitted CO2 to the atmosphere. Especially in the northern regions the sink strength increased during the studied period.

Continue reading ‘The northern European shelf as increasing net sink for CO2’

The carbonate system on the coral patches and rocky intertidal habitats of the northern Persian Gulf: implications for ocean acidification studies

This research characterizes the temporal and spatial variability of the seawater carbonate chemistry on the near-shore waters of the northern Persian Gulf and Makran Sea. In general, normalized total alkalinity (nAT) showed a westward decrease along the coasts of Makran Sea and the Persian Gulf. Intertidal seawater was always supersaturated in terms of calcium carbonate minerals during the daytime. Rocky shore waters in the Persian Gulf were sinks for CO2 in the winter during the daytime. The nAT decreased from Larak to Khargu Island by 81 μmol/kg. As expected, the two hypothetical drivers of bio-calcification, i.e., Ω and the [HCO3 −]/[H+] ratio, were significantly related at a narrow range of ambient temperature. However, as data were pooled over seasons and study sites, in contrast to ΩAr, the [HCO3 −]/[H+] ratio showed a slight dependence on temperature, suggesting that the ratio should be investigated as a more reliable factor in future biocalcification researches.

Continue reading ‘The carbonate system on the coral patches and rocky intertidal habitats of the northern Persian Gulf: implications for ocean acidification studies’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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