Posts Tagged 'chemistry'

Anomalies in the carbonate system of Red Sea coastal habitats (update)

We use observations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA) to assess the impact of ecosystem metabolic processes on coastal waters of the eastern Red Sea. A simple, single-end-member mixing model is used to account for the influence of mixing with offshore waters and evaporation–precipitation and to model ecosystem-driven perturbations on the carbonate system chemistry of coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests. We find that (1) along-shelf changes in TA and DIC exhibit strong linear relationships that are consistent with basin-scale net calcium carbonate precipitation; (2) ecosystem-driven changes in TA and DIC are larger than offshore variations in >70 % of sampled seagrass meadows and mangrove forests, changes which are influenced by a combination of longer water residence times and community metabolic rates; and (3) the sampled mangrove forests show strong and consistent contributions from both organic respiration and other sedimentary processes (carbonate dissolution and secondary redox processes), while seagrass meadows display more variability in the relative contributions of photosynthesis and other sedimentary processes (carbonate precipitation and oxidative processes). The results of this study highlight the importance of resolving the influences of water residence times, mixing and upstream habitats on mediating the carbonate system and coastal air–sea carbon dioxide fluxes over coastal habitats in the Red Sea.

Continue reading ‘Anomalies in the carbonate system of Red Sea coastal habitats (update)’

The impact of intertidal areas on the carbonate system of the southern North Sea

The coastal ocean is strongly affected by ocean acidification because it is shallow and has a low volume. Earlier observations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA) in the southern part of the North Sea and the German Bight, a Northwest-European shelf sea, have revealed lower acidification effects than expected. It has been assumed that anaerobic degradation and subsequent TA release in the adjacent tidal areas (Wadden Sea) in summer time is responsible for this phenomenon. In this study the exchange rates of TA and DIC between the Wadden Sea and the North Sea and the consequences for the carbonate system in the German Bight are estimated using a 3-D ecosystem model. Observed TA and DIC sources in the Wadden Sea were considered as boundary conditions. This procedure is based on the dynamic behaviour of the Wadden Sea as an area of effective production and decomposition of organic material. In addition, modelled tidal water mass exchange was used to transport material between the open North Sea and the Wadden Sea. In the model, 39 Gmol TA yr−1 were exported from the Wadden Sea into the North Sea, which is lower than a previous estimate, but within a comparable range. Furthermore, the interannual variabilities of TA and DIC concentrations, which were mainly driven by hydrodynamic conditions, were examined for the years 2001–2009. Variability in the carbonate system of the German Bight is related to weather in that the occurrence of weak meteorological blocking situations leads to enhanced accumulation of TA there. The results suggest that the Wadden Sea is an important driver of the carbonate system variability in the southern North Sea. According to the model results, on average 63 % of all TA mass changes in the German Bight were caused by net transport, 25 % by Wadden Sea export, 9 % were caused by the internal production of TA and 3 % caused by effective TA river loads (i.e. river load including freshwater dilution). The ratio of exported TA and DIC reflects the dominant underlying biogeochemical processes in the different Wadden Sea areas. Aerobic degradation of organic matter plays a key role in the North Frisian Wadden Sea during all seasons of the year. In the East Frisian Wadden Sea anaerobic degradation of organic matter dominated.

Continue reading ‘The impact of intertidal areas on the carbonate system of the southern North Sea’

Equipping smart coasts with marine water quality IoT sensors


• This micro-manuscript describes a university/industry collaboration to study water quality at a shellfish hatchery.

• We designed a real-time communications system including hardware, firmware, and web visualization/analysis software.

• A dashboard is located at and code at


Ocean acidification, the decrease in seawater pH as a result of increasing carbon dioxide, has been shown to be an important driver of oyster mortality in West Coast shellfisheries [1]. Yet carbon chemistry is only sparsely measured, especially relative to its high variability in coastal ecosystems, due to the complexity and cost of appropriate sensors and their maintenance. Worse, data are rarely communicated in real time to water quality or aquacultural managers. In the Agua Hedionda Lagoon (AHL) in Carlsbad, CA, researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and industry representatives from the Carlsbad Aquafarm have come together through a NOAA-facilitated project to alleviate this data shortage using a combination of cutting-edge research technology alongside off-the-shelf and easy-to-implement IoT communications packages.

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Exoskeleton dissolution with mechanoreceptor damage in larval Dungeness crab related to severity of present-day ocean acidification vertical gradients


• Coastal habitats with the steepest ocean acidification gradients are most detrimental for larval Dungeness crabs.

• Severe carapace dissolution was observed in larval Dungeness crabs along the US west coast.

• Mechanoreceptors with important sensory and behavioral functions were destabilized.

• Dissolution is negatively related to the growth, demonstrating energetic trade-offs.

• 10% dissolution increase over the last two decades estimated due to atmospheric CO2.


Ocean acidification (OA) along the US West Coast is intensifying faster than observed in the global ocean. This is particularly true in nearshore regions (<200 m) that experience a lower buffering capacity while at the same time providing important habitats for ecologically and economically significant species. While the literature on the effects of OA from laboratory experiments is voluminous, there is little understanding of present-day OA in-situ effects on marine life. Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) is perennially one of the most valuable commercial and recreational fisheries. We focused on establishing OA-related vulnerability of larval crustacean based on mineralogical and elemental carapace to external and internal carapace dissolution by using a combination of different methods ranging from scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, elemental mapping and X-ray diffraction. By integrating carapace features with the chemical observations and biogeochemical model hindcast, we identify the occurrence of external carapace dissolution related to the steepest Ω calcite gradients (∆Ωcal,60) in the water column. Dissolution features are observed across the carapace, pereopods (legs), and around the calcified areas surrounding neuritic canals of mechanoreceptors. The carapace dissolution is the most extensive in the coastal habitats under prolonged (1-month) long exposure, as demonstrated by the use of the model hindcast. Such dissolution has a potential to destabilize mechanoreceptors with important sensory and behavioral functions, a pathway of sensitivity to OA. Carapace dissolution is negatively related to crab larval width, demonstrating a basis for energetic trade-offs. Using a retrospective prediction from a regression models, we estimate an 8.3% increase in external carapace dissolution over the last two decades and identified a set of affected OA-related sublethal pathways to inform future risk assessment studies of Dungeness crabs.

Continue reading ‘Exoskeleton dissolution with mechanoreceptor damage in larval Dungeness crab related to severity of present-day ocean acidification vertical gradients’

Towards an intensified summer CO2 sink behaviour in the Southern Ocean coastal regions


• We analysed the FCO2 and CO2 system in an important region of the Southern Ocean.

• The Gerlache Strait acts as a stronger CO2 sink than nearby open ocean areas during the austral summer.

• We identified both strong and near-equilibrium sink scenarios for FCO2.

• The pattern of variability of FCO2 has changed since 2012 to a higher frequency of years with a strong CO2 sink.


The Southern Ocean is a globally important carbon sink region. However, the austral coastal zones are usually not considered in global estimations due to their general undersampling and large regional dynamics. Thus, estimations of carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean may differ considerably from current values, i.e., without accounting for coastal regions. Here, we conducted a case study in the Gerlache Strait, an ecologically important Antarctic coastal zone. We show that the net sea-air CO2 flux (FCO2) in the strait may reach the same or greater magnitudes than those in large open sea regions around Antarctica during summer, despite having a much smaller area. A large mean FCO2 of –31 ± 19 mmol m–2 d–1 was observed in the strong CO2 sink years (i.e., FCO2 < –12 mmol m–2 d–1), in contrast to –1 ± 7 mmol m–2 d–1 in CO2 near-equilibrium conditions (i.e., CO2 sea–air difference ≈ 0). This variability is mainly modulated by phytoplankton activity and likely upwelling processes. We also identified two cycles of variability with 2-year and 4-year periodicities from 1999 to 2017. The 2-year periodicity becomes stronger after 2012, intensifying the strong CO2 sink scenario in the Gerlache Strait. Our findings reinforce the importance of polar coastal zones as CO2 sinks during the austral summer and the need to broaden our understanding of the role of these regions at other time scales.

Continue reading ‘Towards an intensified summer CO2 sink behaviour in the Southern Ocean coastal regions’

Hypoxia in autumn of the East China Sea

Hypoxia (O2 ≤ 2 mg L−1) can severely threaten the survival of marine life and alter the biogeochemical cycles of coastal ecosystems. Its impacts are dependent on its duration. In the present study, hypoxia was observed in autumn at the end of October 2011. It may be one of the latest recorded annual hypoxic events in the East China Sea (ECS). In the hypoxic regions, a large amount of nutrients and dissolved inorganic carbon were observed to regenerate. Also, acidification (low pH) was observed. On the other hand, hypoxic dissipation may be due to the destratification caused by the upwelling of the hypoxic regions in the ECS. These results suggest that hypoxia may occur for longer periods of time than expected and, accordingly, the effects of hypoxia on the ECS ecosystems should be reconsidered and further evaluated.

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Water quality trends in Texas estuaries


• Estuarine water quality data indicates regional “hot spots” of change in Texas.

• Symptoms of eutrophication were found in Galveston Bay, Oso Bay, and Baffin Bay.

• Increasing salinity was observed in estuaries of the central Texas coast.

• Decreasing pH was observed in estuaries of the central Texas coast.


Coastal watersheds in Texas have experienced significant human population growth over the past several decades, yet there have been no comprehensive assessments of water quality trends in Texas estuaries. Here, analysis of historical estuarine water quality data indicates regional “hot spots” of change. Galveston Bay and Oso Bay, which have highly urbanized watersheds, currently exhibit symptoms of eutrophication. Symptoms of eutrophication were also found in the Baffin Bay-Upper Laguna Madre complex, which has a sparsely populated but agriculturally-intensive watershed. Increasing salinity was observed in estuaries of the central Texas coast and are attributed to long-term decreases in freshwater inflow. Another artifact of decreasing freshwater inflow is a reduction in the delivery of carbonate minerals to estuaries, which manifests as decreases in pH. With findings from this study, targeted studies can now be directed at the estuaries that are experiencing water quality degradation in order to guide future management efforts.

Continue reading ‘Water quality trends in Texas estuaries’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book