Posts Tagged 'dissolution'

Biogenic carbonate dissolution in shallow marine environments

Ocean acidification (OA), the decrease in surface ocean pH and seawater saturation state with respect to carbonate minerals (Ω), is expected to increase carbonate mineral dissolution. However, the influence of OA on carbonate dissolution has been largely neglected despite evidence that it is more sensitive to OA than calcification. Increases in the rate of carbonate dissolution could have severe impacts for ecosystems such as coral reefs, which rely on the accumulation of carbonate structures and substrates to exist. At present, dissolution rates of bulk shallow biogenic carbonate sediments are largely unknown and laboratory dissolution rates exceed in situ rates by orders of magnitude. The goal of this study was to develop a better understanding of the drivers and controls of bulk carbonate sediment dissolution in coral reef environments. Based on results from in situ benthic chambers and laboratory free-drift experiments of bulk biogenic carbonate sediments from global locations, dissolution rates were found to be primarily controlled by organic matter decomposition, but significantly influenced by the overlying seawater carbonate chemistry and the solubility of the most soluble mineral phase in the sediments. Shallow carbonate dissolution will therefore be enhanced via ocean acidification, increased respiration, or a combination of these processes. The sensitivity of bulk sediment dissolution rates to changes in Ω was not related to median grain size or mineralogy, but may be attributed to organic coatings on sediment grains. Dissolution rates in bulk sediments increased ~2-3-fold when these coatings were removed, suggesting that they act as a protective barrier that limits direct interaction of seawater with the mineral surface, thus inhibiting dissolution. On the ecosystem scale, carbonate dissolution was inferred from calcium anomalies measured using a novel spectrophotometric titration system and confirms seasonal and inter-annual trends in reef biogeochemical processes based on parallel alkalinity measurements. However, calcium measurements may be best employed in environments where multiple processes significantly influence alkalinity or Mg-calcites are precipitating and dissolving. Although many questions remain, this work has elucidated certain key drivers and controls of shallow carbonate sediment dissolution and how they may respond to a rapidly changing ocean.

Continue reading ‘Biogenic carbonate dissolution in shallow marine environments’

Interactive effects of pH and temperature on native and alien mussels from the west coast of South Africa

Global warming and ocean acidification influence marine calcifying organisms, particularly those with external shells. Among these, mussels may compensate for environmental changes by phenotypic plasticity, but this may entail trade-offs between shell deposition, growth and reproduction. We assessed main and interactive effects of pH and temperature on four mussel species on the west coast of South Africa (33°48′ S, 18°27′ E) in October 2012 by comparing shell dissolution, shell growth, shell breaking force and condition index of two native species, the ribbed mussel Aulacomya atra and the black mussel Choromytilus meridionalis, and two aliens, the Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis and the bisexual mussel Semimytilus algosus. Live mussels and dead shells were exposed for 42 days to seawater of pH 7.5 or 8.0, at 14 °C or 20 °C. Low pH, high temperature and their combination increased shell dissolution of the two aliens but their growth rates and condition indices remained unchanged. Aulacomya atra also experienced greater shell dissolution at a low pH and high temperature, but grew faster in low-pH treatments. For C. meridionalis, shell dissolution was unaffected by pH or temperature; it also grew faster in low-pH treatments, but had a lower condition index in the higher temperature treatment. Shell strength was not determined by thickness alone. In most respects, all four species proved to be robust to short-term reduction of pH and elevation of temperature, but the native species compensated for greater shell dissolution at low pH by increasing growth rate, whereas the aliens did not, so their invasive success cannot be ascribed to benefits accruing from climate change.

Continue reading ‘Interactive effects of pH and temperature on native and alien mussels from the west coast of South Africa’

Calcification of planktonic foraminifer Pulleniatina obliquiloculata controlled by seawater temperature rather than ocean acidification


• A method is provided to correct the dissolution effect on foraminiferal SNW

• Core-top ISNWP. obli is positively correlated with calcification temperature

• ISNWP. obli linked to seawater temperature, but not atmospheric pCO2, since 250 ka

• Temperature is the dominant factor controlling P. obliquiloculata calcification


Planktonic foraminifera represent a major component of global marine carbonate production, and understanding environmental influences on their calcification is critical to predicting marine carbon cycle responses to modern climate change. The present study investigated the effects of different environmental influences on calcification of the planktonic foraminifer Pulleniatina obliquiloculata. By correcting the dissolution effect on the size-normalized weight (SNW) of P. obliquiloculata from deep-sea sediments, we provide a means of estimating initial size-normalized weight (ISNW) from which to assess secular changes in the degree of calcification of P. obliquiloculata. Core-top ISNW in P. obliquiloculata from the global tropical oceans is significantly positively correlated with calcification temperature, suggesting that temperature is the dominant control on calcification. Using Neogloboquadrina dutertrei SNW as an independent deep-water Δ[CO32−] proxy, we present an ISNW record for P. obliquiloculata from the western tropical Pacific since 250 ka. The response of ISNW to past seawater temperature variations further confirms the dominant influence of temperature on P. obliquiloculata calcification. A potential increase in calcification as a result of ocean warming may have reduced oceanic uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere and increased atmospheric pCO2, generating a positive feedback for global warming.

Continue reading ‘Calcification of planktonic foraminifer Pulleniatina obliquiloculata controlled by seawater temperature rather than ocean acidification’

Influence of water masses on the biodiversity and biogeography of deep-sea benthic ecosystems in the North Atlantic

Circulation patterns in the North Atlantic Ocean have changed and re-organized multiple times over millions of years, influencing the biodiversity, distribution, and connectivity patterns of deep-sea species and ecosystems. In this study, we review the effects of the water mass properties (temperature, salinity, food supply, carbonate chemistry, and oxygen) on deep-sea benthic megafauna (from species to community level) and discussed in future scenarios of climate change. We focus on the key oceanic controls on deep-sea megafauna biodiversity and biogeography patterns. We place particular attention on cold-water corals and sponges, as these are ecosystem-engineering organisms that constitute vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) with high associated biodiversity. Besides documenting the current state of the knowledge on this topic, a future scenario for water mass properties in the deep North Atlantic basin was predicted. The pace and severity of climate change in the deep-sea will vary across regions. However, predicted water mass properties showed that all regions in the North Atlantic will be exposed to multiple stressors by 2100, experiencing at least one critical change in water temperature (+2°C), organic carbon fluxes (reduced up to 50%), ocean acidification (pH reduced up to 0.3), aragonite saturation horizon (shoaling above 1000 m) and/or reduction in dissolved oxygen (>5%). The northernmost regions of the North Atlantic will suffer the greatest impacts. Warmer and more acidic oceans will drastically reduce the suitable habitat for ecosystem-engineers, with severe consequences such as declines in population densities, even compromising their long-term survival, loss of biodiversity and reduced biogeographic distribution that might compromise connectivity at large scales. These effects can be aggravated by reductions in carbon fluxes, particularly in areas where food availability is already limited. Declines in benthic biomass and biodiversity will diminish ecosystem services such as habitat provision, nutrient cycling, etc. This study shows that the deep-sea VME affected by contemporary anthropogenic impacts and with the ongoing climate change impacts are unlikely to withstand additional pressures from more intrusive human activities. This study serves also as a warning to protect these ecosystems through regulations and by tempering the ongoing socio-political drivers for increasing exploitation of marine resources.

Continue reading ‘Influence of water masses on the biodiversity and biogeography of deep-sea benthic ecosystems in the North Atlantic’

Acidification and dissolution in marine sediments of bays

Besides sea level rise, climate change main consequences are ocean warming and its evil twin acidification. Ocean acidification has been identified as ‘a future global climate change impact concern’ because it has been slowly affecting entire ecosystems, and it is a threat to local economies, especially shellfish and fisheries productions. The scientific community has limited understanding of ocean acidification impacts, yet local and other researchers continue to monitor and evaluate them in many parts of the world. Marine bay environments are some of the richest and most biodiverse areas in the world. Ocean current circulation and upwelling of deep cold waters brings nutrient rich waters to the surface at certain times of the year, increasing productivity. Bays act as a carbon sink. Global oceans absorb twenty-five percent of our carbon dioxide emissions. So, when there is an excess of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, this excess is absorbed in seawater and marine sediment interstitial water, and a series of chemical reactions lowers pH increasing ocean acidity. These “ocean acidification” changes have serious implications for our coastal ecosystems, altering marine life behavior and development yet this question remains addressed. Increased acidity interferes with the process by which calcifying organisms such as crab, oysters, mussels, and certain plankton and benthic Foraminifera build their shells. Foraminifera are the base of the ocean food chain as first consumers in the ocean.

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Determining how biotic and abiotic variables affect the shell condition and parameters of Heliconoides inflatus pteropods from a sediment trap in the Cariaco Basin

Pteropods have been nicknamed the “canary in the coal mine” for ocean acidification because they are predicted to be among the first organisms to be affected by changing ocean chemistry. This is due to their fragile, aragonitic shells and high abundances in polar and subpolar regions where the impacts of ocean acidification are most pronounced. For pteropods to be used most effectively as indicators of ocean acidification, the biotic and abiotic factors influencing their shell formation and dissolution in the modern ocean need to be quantified and understood. Here, we measured the shell condition (i.e., the degree to which a shell has dissolved) and shell characteristics, including size, number of whorls, shell thickness, and shell volume (i.e., amount of shell material) of nearly 50 specimens of the pteropod species Heliconoides inflatus sampled from a sediment trap in the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela, over an 11-month period. The shell condition of pteropods from sediment traps has the potential to be altered at three stages: (1) when the organisms are live in the water column associated with ocean acidification, (2) when organisms are dead in the water column associated with biotic decay of organic matter and/or abiotic dissolution associated with ocean acidification, and (3) when organisms are in the closed sediment trap cup associated with abiotic alteration by the preservation solution. Shell condition was assessed using two methods: the Limacina Dissolution Index (LDX) and the opacity method. The opacity method was found to capture changes in shell condition only in the early stages of dissolution, whereas the LDX recorded dissolution changes over a much larger range. Because the water in the Cariaco Basin is supersaturated with respect to aragonite year-round, we assume no dissolution occurred during life, and there is no evidence that shell condition deteriorated with the length of time in the sediment trap. Light microscope and scanning electron microscope (SEM) images show the majority of alteration happened to dead pteropods while in the water column associated with the decay of organic matter. The most altered shells occurred in samples collected in September and October when water temperatures were warmest and when the amount of organic matter degradation, both within the shells of dead specimens and in the water column, was likely to have been the greatest.

Continue reading ‘Determining how biotic and abiotic variables affect the shell condition and parameters of Heliconoides inflatus pteropods from a sediment trap in the Cariaco Basin’

Pore water conditions driving calcium carbonate dissolution in reef sands

Due to decreases in seawater pH resulting from ocean acidification, permeable calcium carbonate reef sands are predicted to be net dissolving by 2050. However, the rate of dissolution and factors that control this rate remain poorly understood. Experiments performed in benthic chambers predict that reefs will become net dissolving when the aragonite saturation state (Ωa) in sea water falls below ∼ 3, as underlying reef sediments start net dissolution due to lower saturation states in the pore water. We used flow-through reactors to investigate the rate of dissolution at various Ωa at the pore scale. The sediment became net dissolving at Ωa = 1.68 – 2.25, which is significantly greater than 1. This indicates that the bulk pore water does not represent conditions at the site of dissolution, and dissolution probably occurs in microniches inside porous sand grains. Measured dissolution rates were much higher under oxic conditions than anoxic conditions, but were not affected by the addition of carbonic anhydrase. Analysis of δ13C-CO2 produced in the flow-through reactors revealed a bias in the conventional alkalinity anomaly method under anoxic conditions, showing that some of the CO2 attributed to metabolism by may actually be derived from carbonate dissolution. This deviation likely originates from alkalinity consumption by fermentation, which masks the alkalinity generated by dissolution. Therefore, dissolution rates determined by alkalinity changes in reef sands with anaerobic metabolisms may underestimate actual values.

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Vulnerability of Tritia reticulata (L.) early life stages to ocean acidification and warming

Ocean acidification and warming (OA-W) result mainly from the absorption of carbon dioxide and heat by the oceans, altering its physical and chemical properties and affecting carbonate secretion by marine calcifiers such as gastropods. These processes are ongoing, and the projections of their aggravation are not encouraging. This work assesses the concomitant effect of the predicted pH decrease and temperature rise on early life stages of the neogastropod Tritia reticulata (L.), a common scavenger of high ecological importance on coastal ecosystems of the NE Atlantic. Veligers were exposed for 14 days to 12 OA-W experimental scenarios generated by a factorial design of three pH levels (targeting 8.1, 7.8 and 7.5) at four temperatures (16, 18, 20 and 22 °C). Results reveal effects of both pH and temperature (T °C) on larval development, growth, shell integrity and survival, individually or interactively at different exposure times. All endpoints were initially driven by pH, with impaired development and high mortalities being recorded in the first week, constrained by the most acidic scenarios (pHtarget 7.5). Development was also significantly driven by T °C, and its acceleration with warming was observed for the remaining exposure time. Still, by the end of this 2-weeks trial, larval performance and survival were highly affected by the interaction between pH and T °C: growth under warming was evident but only for T °C ≤ 20 °C and carbonate saturation (pHtarget ≥ 7.8). In fact, carbonate undersaturation rendered critical larval mortality (100%) at 22 °C, and the occurrence of extremely vulnerable, unshelled specimens in all other tested temperatures. As recruitment cohorts are the foundation for future populations, our results point towards the extreme vulnerability of this species in case tested scenarios become effective that, according to the IPCC, are projected for the northern hemisphere, where this species is ubiquitous, by the end of the century. Increased veliger mortality associated with reduced growth rates, shell dissolution and loss under OA-W projected scenarios will reduce larval performance, jeopardizing T. reticulata subsistence.

Continue reading ‘Vulnerability of Tritia reticulata (L.) early life stages to ocean acidification and warming’

Relationship between shell integrity of pelagic gastropods and carbonate chemistry parameters at a Scottish Coastal Observatory monitoring site

Ocean acidification (OA), the anthropogenic carbon dioxide-induced changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, is likely to have a significant impact on calcifying plankton. Most planktonic studies on OA are based on “one-off” cruises focused on offshore areas while observations from inshore waters are scarce. This study presents the first analysis on the shell integrity of pelagic gastropods (holoplanktonic pteropods and planktonic larvae of otherwise benthic species) at the Scottish Coastal Observatory monitoring site at Stonehaven on the east coast of Scotland. The shell integrity of archived pelagic gastropods specimens from 2011 to 2013 was examined using Scanning Electron Microscopy and the relationship with OA (pH and aragonite saturation, Ωarg) and other environmental parameters was investigated. Evidence of shell dissolution was detected in all analysed taxa even though the seawater was supersaturated with respect to aragonite. The shell condition matched the temporal pattern observed in Ωarg, with higher proportion of dissolution associated with decreasing Ωarg, suggesting that the seasonality component of carbonate chemistry might affect the shell integrity of pelagic gastropods. The proportion of shell dissolution differed significantly between larvae and adult stages of pteropods, supporting the hypothesis that early-life stages would be more vulnerable to OA-induced changes. Our data also suggest that sensitivity to OA may differ even between closely related taxonomic groups. The strong interannual variability revealed by the year-to-year shell dissolution and Ωarg illustrates the difficulty in assessing the plankton response to OA in the field and the value of time series studies.

Continue reading ‘Relationship between shell integrity of pelagic gastropods and carbonate chemistry parameters at a Scottish Coastal Observatory monitoring site’

Contrasting changes in diel variations of net community calcification support that carbonate dissolution can be more sensitive to ocean acidification than coral calcification

Previous studies have found that calcification in coral reefs is generally stronger during the day, whereas dissolution is prevalent at night. On the basis of these contrasting patterns, the diel variations of net community calcification (NCC) were monitored to examine the relative sensitivity of CaCO3 production (calcification) and dissolution in coral reefs to ocean acidification (OA), using two mesocosms that replicated a typical subtropical coral reef ecosystem in southern Taiwan. The results revealed that the daytime NCC remained unchanged, whereas the nighttime NCC decreased between the control (ambient) and treatment (OA) conditions, suggesting that carbonate dissolution could be more sensitive to OA than coral calcification. The average sensitivity of the integrated daily NCC to changes in the seawater saturation state (Ωa) was estimated to be a reduction of 54% in NCC per unit change in Ωa, which is consistent with the global average. In summary, our results support the prevailing anticipation that OA would lead to a reduction in the overall accretion of coral reef ecosystems. However, increased CaCO3 dissolution rather than decreased coral calcification could be the dominant driving force responsible for this OA-induced reduction in NCC.

Continue reading ‘Contrasting changes in diel variations of net community calcification support that carbonate dissolution can be more sensitive to ocean acidification than coral calcification’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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