Fish are critical ecologically and socioeconomically for subsistence economies in the Arctic, an ecosystem undergoing unprecedented environmental change. Our understanding of the responses of nearshore Arctic fishes to environmental change is inadequate because of limited research on the physicochemical drivers of abundance occurring at a fine scale. Here, high-frequency in situ measurements of pH, temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen were paired with daily fish catches in nearshore Alaskan waters of the Beaufort Sea. Due to the threat that climate change poses to high-latitude marine ecosystems, our main objective was to characterize the abiotic drivers of abundance and elucidate how nearshore fish communities may change in the future. We used generalized additive models (GAMs) to describe responses to the nearshore environment for 18 fish species. Relationships between abundance and the physicochemical environment were variable between species and reflected life history. Each abiotic covariate was significant in at least one GAM, exhibiting both nonlinear and linear associations with abundance. Temperature was the most important predictor of abundance and was significant in GAMs for 11 species. Notably, pH was a significant predictor of abundance for six species: Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), broad whitefish (Coregonus nasus), Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma), ninespine stickleback (Pungitius pungitius), saffron cod (Eleginus gracilis), and whitespotted greenling (Hexagrammos stelleri). Broad whitefish and whitespotted greenling abundance was positively associated with pH, while Arctic cod and saffron cod abundance was negatively associated with pH. These results may be a bellwether for future nearshore Arctic fish community change by providing a foundational characterization of the relationships between abundance and the abiotic environment, particularly in regard to pH, and demonstrate the importance of including a wider range of physicochemical habitat covariates in future research.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas that degrades ozone. Hypoxia and ocean acidification are becoming more intense as a result of climate change. The former stimulates N2O emissions, whereas the effects of the latter on N2O production vary by the ocean. Hypoxia and ocean acidification may play a critical role in the evolution of future oceanic N2O production. However, the interactive effects of hypoxia and ocean acidification on N2O production remain unclear. We conducted a research cruise in the Bohai Sea of China to assess the occurrence of ocean acidification in the seasonal oxygen minimum zone of the sea and further conducted laboratory incubation experiments to determine the effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia on N2O production. When pH decreased by 0.25, N2O production decreased by 50.77 and 72.38%, respectively. In contrast, hypoxia had a positive impact; when dissolved oxygen (DO) decreased to 3.7 and 2.4 mg L−1, N2O production increased by 49.72 and 278.68%, respectively. The incubation experiments demonstrated that the coupling of ocean acidification and hypoxia significantly increased N2O production, but, individually, there was an antagonistic relationship between the two. Structural equation modeling showed that the total effects of hypoxia treatment on N2O production changes weakened the effects of ocean acidification, with overall positive effects. Generally speaking, our results suggest that N2O production from the coastal waters of the Bohai Sea may increase under future climate change scenarios due to increasingly serious ocean acidification and hypoxia working in combination.
- The carbonate system and its controlling factors in a mariculture area were studied.
- Massive bay scallop farming was a potential factor for coastal acidification.
- Scallop calcification reduced 75.66 μmol kg−1 of total alkalinity in surface water.
- Biochemical and physical processes jointly controlled the other CO2 parameters.
Seven cruises were carried out in a bay scallop (Argopecten irradians) farming area and its surrounding waters, North Yellow Sea, from March to November 2017 to study the dynamics of the carbonate system and its controlling factors. Results indicated that the studied parameters were highly variability over a range of spatiotemporal scales, comprehensively forced by various physical and biochemical processes. Mixing effect and scallop calcification played the most important role in the seasonal variation of total alkalinity (TAlk). For dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), in addition to mixing, air-sea exchange and microbial activity, e.g. photosynthesis and microbial respiration processes, had more important effects on its dynamics. Different from the former, the changes of water pHT, partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and aragonite saturation state (ΩA) were mainly controlled by the combining of the temperature, air-sea exchange, microbial activity and scallop metabolic activities. In addition, our results suggested that massive scallop farming can significantly increase the DIC/TAlk ratio by reducing the TAlk concentration in seawater, thereby reducing the buffering capacity of seawater to the carbonate system especially for ΩA. Preliminary calculated, ~75.7 μmol kg−1 and ~45.5 μmol kg−1 of TAlk was removed from the surface and bottom water in one scallop cultivating cycle. If these carbonates cannot be replenished in time, it is likely to accelerate the acidification process of coastal waters. This study highlighted the control mechanism of the carbonate system under the influence of bay scallop farming, and provided useful information for revealing the potential link between human activities (shelled-mollusc mariculture) and coastal acidification.
In this study, the variations of the seawater carbonate system parameters and air-sea CO2 flux (FCO2) of Shen’ao Bay, a typical subtropical aquaculture bay located in China, were investigated in spring 2016 (March to May). Parameters related to the seawater carbonate system and FCO2 were measured monthly in 3 different aquaculture areas (fish, oyster and seaweed) and in a non-culture area near the bay mouth. The results showed that the seawater carbonate system was markedly influenced by the biological processes of the culture species. Total alkalinity was significantly lower in the oyster area compared with the fish and seaweed areas, mainly because of the calcification process of oysters. Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and CO2 partial pressure ( pCO2) were highest in the fish area, followed by the oyster and non-culture areas, and lowest in the seaweed area. Oysters and fish can have indirect influences on DIC and pCO2by releasing nutrients, which facilitate the growth of seaweed and phytoplankton and therefore promote photosynthetic CO2 fixation. For these reasons, Shen’ao Bay acts as a potential CO2 sink in spring, with an average FCO2 ranging from -1.2 to -4.8 mmol m-2 d-1. CO2 fixation in the seaweed area was the largest contributor to CO2 flux, accounting for ca. 58% of the total CO2 sink capacity of the entire bay. These results suggest that the carbonate system and FCO2 of Shen’ao Bay were significantly affected by large-scale mariculture activities. A higher CO2 sink capacity could be acquired by extending the culture area of seaweed.
- High CO2 conditions profoundly affected biofilm community composition
- Species turnover explained differences in community composition
- Biofilm communities were more homogeneous under high CO2 conditions
- Toxin producing and turf-forming algae were enriched under high CO2 conditions
Biofilms harbour a wealth of microbial diversity and fulfil key functions in coastal marine ecosystems. Elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) conditions affect the structure and function of biofilm communities, yet the ecological patterns that underpin these effects remain unknown. We used high-throughput sequencing of the 16S and 18S rRNA genes to investigate the effect of elevated CO2 on the early successional stages of prokaryotic and eukaryotic biofilms at a CO2 seep system off Shikine Island, Japan. Elevated CO2 profoundly affected biofilm community composition throughout the early stages of succession, leading to greater compositional homogeneity between replicates and the proliferation of the potentially harmful algae Prymnesium sp. and Biddulphia biddulphiana. Species turnover was the main driver of differences between communities in reference and high CO2 conditions, rather than differences in richness or evenness. Our study indicates that species turnover is the primary ecological pattern that underpins the effect of elevated CO2 on both prokaryotic and eukaryotic components of biofilm communities, indicating that elevated CO2 conditions represent a distinct niche selecting for a distinct cohort of organisms without the loss of species richness.
Ocean warming is altering the biogeographical distribution of marine organisms. In the tropics, rising sea surface temperatures are restructuring coral reef communities with sensitive species being lost. At the biogeographical divide between temperate and tropical communities, warming is causing macroalgal forest loss and the spread of tropical corals, fishes and other species, termed “tropicalization”. A lack of field research into the combined effects of warming and ocean acidification means there is a gap in our ability to understand and plan for changes in coastal ecosystems. Here, we focus on the tropicalization trajectory of temperate marine ecosystems becoming coral-dominated systems. We conducted field surveys and in situ transplants at natural analogues for present and future conditions under (i) ocean warming and (ii) both ocean warming and acidification at a transition zone between kelp and coral-dominated ecosystems. We show that increased herbivory by warm-water fishes exacerbates kelp forest loss and that ocean acidification negates any benefits of warming for range extending tropical corals growth and physiology at temperate latitudes. Our data show that, as the combined effects of ocean acidification and warming ratchet up, marine coastal ecosystems lose kelp forests but do not gain scleractinian corals. Ocean acidification plus warming leads to overall habitat loss and a shift to simple turf-dominated ecosystems, rather than the complex coral-dominated tropicalized systems often seen with warming alone. Simplification of marine habitats by increased CO2 levels cascades through the ecosystem and could have severe consequences for the provision of goods and services.
Understanding decadal changes in the coastal carbonate system is essential for predicting how the health of these waters responds to anthropogenic drivers, such as changing atmospheric conditions and riverine inputs. However, studies that quantify the relative impacts of these drivers are lacking. In this study, the primary drivers of decadal trends in the surface carbonate system, and the spatiotemporal variability in these trends, are identified for a large coastal plain estuary: the Chesapeake Bay. Experiments using a coupled three-dimensional hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model highlight that, over the past three decades, the changes in the surface carbonate system of Chesapeake Bay have strong seasonal and spatial variability. The greatest surface pH and aragonite saturation state (ΩAR) reductions have occurred in the summer in the middle (mesohaline) Bay: −0.24 and −0.9 per 30 years, respectively, with increases in atmospheric CO2 and reductions in nitrate loading both being primary drivers. Reductions in nitrate loading have a strong seasonal influence on the carbonate system, with the most pronounced decadal decreases in pH and ΩAR occurring during the summer when primary production is strongly dependent on nutrient availability. Increases in riverine total alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon have raised surface pH in the upper oligohaline Bay, while other drivers such as atmospheric warming and input of acidified ocean water through the Bay mouth have had comparatively minor impacts on the estuarine carbonate system. This work has significant implications for estuarine ecosystem services, which are typically most sensitive to surface acidification in the spring and summer seasons.
Plain Language Summary
Seawater pH, a measure of how acidic or basic water is, is a crucial water quality parameter influencing the growth and health of marine organisms, such as oysters, fishes and crabs. Decreasing pH, commonly referred to as acidification, is a severe environmental issue that has been exacerbated by human activities since the industrial revolution. In the open ocean, elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide is the key driver of acidification. However, in coastal environments the drivers are particularly complex due to changing human influences on land. In this study the primary drivers of acidification in the Chesapeake Bay over the past three decades are identified via the application of a three-dimensional ecosystem model. Increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations and decreased terrestrial nutrient inputs are two primary drivers causing nearly equal reductions in pH in surface waters of the Bay. The pH reductions resulting from decreased nutrient loads indicate that the system is reverting back to more natural conditions when human-induced nutrient inputs to the Bay were lower. As nutrient reduction efforts to improve coastal water quality continue in the future, controlling the emissions of anthropogenic CO2 globally becomes increasingly important for the shellfish industry and the ecosystem services it provides.
Weekly and bi-monthly carbonate system parameters and ancillary data were collected from 2008 to 2020 in three coastal ecosystems of the southern Western English Channel (sWEC) (SOMLIT-pier and SOMLIT-offshore) and Bay of Brest (SOMLIT-Brest) located in the North East Atlantic Ocean. The main drivers of seasonal and interannual partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) variabilities were the net ecosystem production (NEP) and thermodynamics. Differences were observed between stations, with a higher biological influence on pCO2 and DIC in the near-shore ecosystems, driven by both benthic and pelagic communities. The impact of riverine inputs on DIC dynamics was more pronounced at SOMLIT-Brest (7%) than at SOMLIT-pier (3%) and SOMLIT-offshore (<1%). These three ecosystems acted as a weak source of CO2 to the atmosphere of 0.18 ± 0.10, 0.11 ± 0.12, and 0.39 ± 0.08 mol m–2 year–1, respectively. Interannually, air-sea CO2 fluxes (FCO2) variability was low at SOMLIT-offshore and SOMLIT-pier, whereas SOMLIT-Brest occasionally switched to weak annual sinks of atmospheric CO2, driven by enhanced spring NEP compared to annual means. Over the 2008–2018 period, monthly total alkalinity (TA) and DIC anomalies were characterized by significant positive trends (p-values < 0.001), from 0.49 ± 0.20 to 2.21 ± 0.39 μmol kg−1 year−1 for TA, and from 1.93 ± 0.28 to 2.98 ± 0.39 μmol kg–1 year–1 for DIC. These trends were associated with significant increases of calculated seawater pCO2, ranging from +2.95 ± 1.04 to 3.52 ± 0.47 μatm year–1, and strong reductions of calculated pHin situ, with a mean pHin situ decrease of 0.0028 year–1. This ocean acidification (OA) was driven by atmospheric CO2 forcing (57–66%), Sea surface temperature (SST) increase (31–37%), and changes in salinity (2–5%). Additional pHin situ data extended these observed trends to the 2008–2020 period and indicated an acceleration of OA, reflected by a mean pHin situ decrease of 0.0046 year–1 in the sWEC for that period. Further observations over the 1998–2020 period revealed that the climatic indices North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV) were linked to trends of SST, with cooling during 1998–2010 and warming during 2010–2020, which might have impacted OA trends at our coastal stations. These results suggested large temporal variability of OA in coastal ecosystems of the sWEC and underlined the necessity to maintain high-resolution and long-term observations of carbonate parameters in coastal ecosystems.
Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) is a power generation technology that extracts energy from the temperature difference between deep seawater and surface water in the ocean. Currently, a 100 kW class OTEC demonstration project is underway on Kume Island, Okinawa, and a plan to increase water intake and introduce a 1 MW class OTEC plant is under consideration. Year-round generation of electricity by an OTEC plant requires that it be installed in tropical and subtropical regions, where the surface water has a high temperature and low nutrient content. However, the water discharged from an OTEC plant will have the opposite characteristics of low water temperature and high nutrients, as well as a low pH. One of the most concerning environmental impacts of this discharged water is its influence on corals, which are important species in tropical and subtropical marine ecosystems. In this study, we developed an ecosystem model for a subtropical shallow-water region; the model combines a pelagic submodel, a chemical equilibrium submodel, and a benthic submodel, and successfully reproduces the observed variation in pH. The model was used to predict the environmental impact of water discharged from OTEC plant. The simulation results suggest that a 1 MW class OTEC plant would cause few environmental changes that would affect corals.
Prior exposure to variable environmental conditions is predicted to influence the resilience of marine organisms to global change. We conducted complementary 4-month field and laboratory experiments to understand how a dynamic, and sometimes extreme, environment influences growth rates of a tropical reef-building crustose coralline alga and its responses to ocean acidification (OA). Using a reciprocal transplant design, we quantified calcification rates of the Caribbean coralline Lithophyllum sp. at sites with a history of either extreme or moderate oxygen, temperature, and pH regimes. Calcification rates of in situ corallines at the extreme site were 90% lower than those at the moderate site, regardless of origin. Negative effects of corallines originating from the extreme site persisted even after transplanting to more optimal conditions for 20 weeks. In the laboratory, we tested the separate and combined effects of stress and variability by exposing corallines from the same sites to either ambient (Amb: pH 8.04) or acidified (OA: pH 7.70) stable conditions or variable (Var: pH 7.80-8.10) or acidified variable (OA-Var: pH 7.45-7.75) conditions. There was a negative effect of all pH treatments on Lithophyllum sp. calcification rates relative to the control, with lower calcification rates in corallines from the extreme site than from the moderate site in each treatment, indicative of a legacy effect of site origin on subsequent response to laboratory treatment. Our study provides ecologically relevant context to understanding the nuanced effects of OA on crustose coralline algae, and illustrates how local environmental regimes may influence the effects of global change.
Coccolithophores are unicellular phytoplanktonic organisms characterized by a covering of calcite plates, the coccoliths, which are produced intracellularly. These calcifiers, as one of the main planktonic functional groups, play an important role in the inorganic carbon cycle and possibly as ballast that sinks organic carbon to the deep-sea. Most efforts to understanding coccolithophore response to ocean acidification (OA) –or the raise in atmospheric CO2 reduces ocean pH and saturation states (Ω) of CaCO3– have been through lab experiments, mostly using a small set of strains of the cosmopolitan, easily cultivated species Emiliania huxleyi. This species is especially interesting because it is young (~ 291,000 years) and has adapted to a wide range of marine environments. However, it is not the only coccolithophore and even within that species there is a lot of phenotypic and genetic diversity and diverse responses to OA in the lab. Despite the efforts made it is unclear how the physiological effects under controlled conditions translate to community-level responses in the field. This thesis aimed to contribute to understanding this issue by studying the distribution, composition and realized niches of coccolithophore assemblages and E. huxleyi morphotypes in contrasting pCO2/pH/Ωcalcite environments of the Eastern South Pacific, and to evaluate the responses of different E. huxleyi23 morphotypes to targeted pCO2/pH levels set in the lab. For this, the coccolithophores were surveyed in a coastal-oceanic section, mesotrophic waters, upwelling systems, and fjords-channels of Patagonia. From a total of 40 species, E. huxleyi was the most prevalent (30-100 % relative abundance). Within this taxon, several morphotypes has been described as stable in culture and genetically differentiated (e.g., the A and R morphotypes). The moderately-calcified A morphotype dominated the E. huxleyi populations being only surpassed by the R hyper-calcified morphotype in upwelling systems with high pCO2/low pH. This abrupt shift in the composition of E. huxleyi populations suggested that these coastal environments hold genetic reservoirs for their adaptation to OA. Therefore, the hypothesis was tested that these forms are adapted to resist high pCO2/low pH conditions. Unexpectedly, the morphotypes from the Eastern South Pacific were not more sensitive than the R hyper-calcified strains from neighboring high pCO2/low pH waters (lowering growth rates and PIC/POC ratios). On the other hand, realized-niche analysis showed that the A morphotype has a broader niche that is more tolerant to environmental-change (i.e., generalist) than the R morphotype’s niche, specialized to high pCO2/low pH waters. The lack of evidence for local adaptation to high pCO2/low pH conditions in E. huxleyi, might be explained by a narrow unimodal niche response to Ωcalcite revealed by niche analysis that was not tested experimentally. Alternatively, the R hyper-calcified morphotype might be selected by an unidentified condition particular to the Eastern South Pacific that correlates with temperature, salinity, and Ωcalcite of its realized-niche. Overall, despite their rapid turnover and large population sizes, oceanic planktonic microorganisms do not necessarily exhibit adaptations to high-pCO2 upwelled waters, and this ubiquitous coccolithophore may be near the limit of its capacity to adapt to ongoing OA.
Ocean acidification (OA) will decrease shellfish growth and survival, with ecological and economic consequences for fisheries and aquaculture. However, the high variability of results among experiments, and the lack of long-term studies, make it difficult to predict the effect that OA will have on bivalve species. We tested the long-term effect of high CO2 on growth, calcification rates, and survival of juveniles of the commercial bivalve species Chamelea gallina from Southern Portugal. The local high alkalinity of seawater probably buffered the negative effect of the pH drop, and after 75 days juveniles increased their growth and calcification rates with CO2. However, after 217 days, the situation reversed, bivalves under control conditions had the highest growth and calcification rates, while individuals under high CO2 presented negative calcification rates. The biometric variable that responded first was the width of the individuals, followed by the height and length of the shells. Survival was unaffected except for a mortality peak of juveniles under control and intermediate conditions as a consequence of a temperature drop. In the short term, C. gallina will increase their calcification rates to compensate for OA. However, in the long term, the additional energy expended will be translated into growth losses with negative repercussions for the fisheries and aquaculture. The cultivation of shellfish on high alkaline seawater should be further explored as a bioremediation measure to mitigate the negative effect of OA on shellfish aquaculture.
Ocean acidification has been broadly recognised to have effects on the structure and functioning of marine benthic communities. The selection of tolerant or vulnerable species can also occur during settlement phases, especially for calcifying organisms which are more vulnerable to low pH–high pCO2 conditions. Here, we use three natural CO2 vents (Castello Aragonese north and south sides, and Vullatura, Ischia, Italy) to assess the effect of a decrease of seawater pH on the settlement of Mollusca in Posidonia oceanica meadows, and to test the possible buffering effect provided by the seagrass. Artificial collectors were installed and collected after 33 days, during April–May 2019, in three different microhabitats within the meadow (canopy, bottom/rhizome level, and dead matte without plant cover), following a pH decreasing gradient from an extremely low pH zone (pH < 7.4), to ambient pH conditions (pH = 8.10). A total of 4659 specimens of Mollusca, belonging to 57 different taxa, were collected. The number of taxa was lower in low and extremely low pH conditions. Reduced mollusc assemblages were reported at the acidified stations, where few taxa accounted for a high number of individuals. Multivariate analyses revealed significant differences in mollusc assemblages among pH conditions, microhabitat, and the interaction of these two factors. Acanthocardia echinata, Alvania lineata, Alvania sp. juv, Eatonina fulgida, Hiatella arctica, Mytilys galloprovincialis, Musculus subpictus, Phorcus sp. juv, and Rissoa variabilis were the species mostly found in low and extremely low pH stations, and were all relatively robust to acidified conditions. Samples placed on the dead matte under acidified conditions at the Vullatura vent showed lower diversity and abundances if compared to canopy and bottom/rhizome samples, suggesting a possible buffering role of the Posidonia on mollusc settlement. Our study provides new evidence of shifts in marine benthic communities due to ocean acidification and evidence of how P. oceanica meadows could mitigate its effects on associated biota in light of future climate change.
The processes of warming, anthropogenic CO2 (Canth) accumulation, decreasing pHT (increasing [H+]T; concentration in total scale) and calcium carbonate saturation in the subarctic zone of the North Atlantic are unequivocal in the time-series measurements of the Iceland (IS-TS, 1985–2003) and Irminger Sea (IRM-TS, 1983–2013) stations. Both stations show high rates of Canth accumulation with different rates of warming, salinification and stratification linked to regional circulation and dynamics. At the IS-TS, advected and stratified waters of Arctic origin drive a strong increase in [H+]T, in the surface layer, which is nearly halved in the deep layer (44.7 ± 3.6 and 25.5 ± 1.0 pmol kg−1 yr−1, respectively). In contrast, the weak stratification at the IRM-TS allows warming, salinification and Canth uptake to reach the deep layer. The acidification trends are even stronger in the deep layer than in the surface layer (44.2 ± 1.0 pmol kg−1 yr−1 and 32.6 ± 3.4 pmol kg−1 yr−1 of [H+]T, respectively). The driver analysis detects that warming contributes up to 50% to the increase in [H+]T at the IRM-TS but has a small positive effect on calcium carbonate saturation. The Canth increase is the main driver of the observed acidification, but it is partially dampened by the northward advection of water with a relatively low natural CO2 content.
Negative interactions among species are a major force shaping natural communities and are predicted to strengthen as climate change intensifies. Similarly, positive interactions are anticipated to intensify and could buffer the consequences of climate-driven disturbances. We used in situ experiments at volcanic CO2 vents within a temperate rocky reef to show that ocean acidification can drive community reorganization through indirect and direct positive pathways. A keystone species, the algal-farming damselfish Parma alboscapularis, enhanced primary productivity through its weeding of algae whose productivity was also boosted by elevated CO2. The accelerated primary productivity was associated with increased densities of primary consumers (herbivorous invertebrates), which indirectly supported increased secondary consumers densities (predatory fish) (i.e. strengthening of bottom-up fuelling). However, this keystone species also reduced predatory fish densities through behavioural interference, releasing invertebrate prey from predation pressure and enabling a further boost in prey densities (i.e. weakening of top-down control). We uncover a novel mechanism where a keystone herbivore mediates bottom-up and top-down processes simultaneously to boost populations of a coexisting herbivore, resulting in altered food web interactions and predator populations under future ocean acidification.
For open ocean environments, it is rare to find continuous, simultaneous air and sea observation records due to the challenges of instrument installation and maintenance. The Ieodo Ocean Research Station (Ieodo ORS), a remote ocean site located in the northern East China Sea with its harsh oceanic and atmospheric environment, provides a platform for the concurrent monitoring of air and sea environments. Since 2014, the Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Agency has run the “Ieodo ORS field trip program,” via which researchers are able to stay at the station for a week or more. This work reports technical lessons learned over 5 years from five Ieodo ORS research projects launched in 2016. Over the course of these projects, Ieodo ORS has monitored sea surface temperature, temperature and salinity in the water column, seawater pH, air pollutants, and solar radiation. The purpose of this paper is to facilitate the success of future research activities in similar environments by sharing our experiences and “best practices.”
Surface ocean CO2 measurements are used to compute the oceanic air–sea CO2 flux. The CO2 flux component from rivers and estuaries is uncertain. Estuarine and coastal water carbon dioxide (CO2) observations are relatively few compared to observations in the open ocean. The contribution of these regions to the global air–sea CO2 flux remains uncertain due to systematic under-sampling. Existing high-quality CO2 instrumentation predominantly utilise showerhead and percolating style equilibrators optimised for open ocean observations. The intervals between measurements made with such instrumentation make it difficult to resolve the fine-scale spatial variability of surface water CO2 at timescales relevant to the high frequency variability in estuarine and coastal environments. Here we present a novel dataset with unprecedented frequency and spatial resolution transects made at the Western Channel Observatory in the south west of the UK from June to September 2016, using a fast response seawater CO2 system. Novel observations were made along the estuarine–coastal continuum at different stages of the tide and reveal distinct spatial patterns in the surface water CO2 fugacity (fCO2) at different stages of the tidal cycle. Changes in salinity and fCO2 were closely correlated at all stages of the tidal cycle and suggest that the mixing of oceanic and riverine end members determines the variations in fCO2. The observations demonstrate the complex dynamics determining spatial and temporal patterns of salinity and fCO2 in the region. Spatial variations in observed surface salinity were used to validate the output of a regional high resolution hydrodynamic model. The model enables a novel estimate of the air–sea CO2 flux in the estuarine–coastal zone. Air–sea CO2 flux variability in the estuarine–coastal boundary region is dominated by the state of the tide because of strong CO2 outgassing from the river plume. The observations and model output demonstrate that undersampling the complex tidal and mixing processes characteristic of estuarine and coastal environment bias quantification of air-sea CO2 fluxes in coastal waters. The results provide a mechanism to support critical national and regional policy implementation by reducing uncertainty in carbon budgets.
The United States Department of Energy (DOE)’s Ocean Margins Program (OMP) cruise EN279 in March 1996 provides an important baseline for assessing long-term changes in the carbon cycle and biogeochemistry in the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) as climate and anthropogenic changes have been substantial in this region over the past two decades. The distributions of O2, nutrients, and marine inorganic carbon system parameters are influenced by coastal currents, temperature gradients, and biological production and respiration. On the cross-shelf direction, pH decreases seaward, but carbonate saturation state (ΩArag) does not exhibit a clear trend. In contrast, ΩArag increases from north to south, while pH has no clear spatial patterns in the along-shelf direction. In order to distinguish between the effects of physical mixing of various water masses and those of biological activities on the marine inorganic carbon system, we use the potential temperature-salinity diagram to identify water masses, and differences between observations and theoretical mixing concentrations to measure the non-conservative (primarily biological) effects. Our analysis clearly shows the degree to which ocean margin pH and ΩArag are regulated by biological activities in addition to water mass mixing, gas exchange, and temperature. The correlations among anomalies in dissolved inorganic carbon, phosphate, nitrate, and apparent oxygen utilization agree with known biological stoichiometry. Biological uptake is substantial in nearshore waters and in shelf-slope mixing areas. This work provides valuable baseline information to assess the more recent changes in the marine inorganic carbon system and the status of coastal ocean acidification.
- 1. The NSCS shelf carbonate system shows strong seasonality with two distinct regimes between the inner-shelf and the mid-outer shelf.
- 2. The seasonal dynamics of sea surface pCO2 and Ωarag on the mid-outer shelf highlight the influence of temperature effect and the seasonal cycle of mixed layer depth (MLD), while the Pearl River Plume has a profound effect in summer on the mid-shelf.
- 3. The spatial dynamics of sea surface pCO2 and Ωarag on the inner-shelf feature the influence of China Coastal Current (CCC) in winter and coastal upwelling in summer.
Based on large-scale surveys conducted during all four seasons from 2009-2011, we investigated the carbonate systems on the northern South China Sea (NSCS) shelf featuring much higher variations in both seasonality and spatiality on its inner-shelf (< 40 m) as compared to the areas on the mid-outer shelf (> 40 m). The most notable forcing on the mid-outer shelf include the intrusion of Kuroshio water leading to high surface salinity and high total alkalinity (TA) in winter, the impact of which is however limited to the northeastern part of the NSCS. The Pearl River Plume (PRP), a prominent feature in summer also has profound impact on the carbonate system on the mid-outer shelf. On the inner-shelf, the carbonate system was much more dynamic, featuring complex modulations by coastal upwelling associated with relatively high dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and TA in summer, and the China Coastal Current (CCC) of high DIC in winter, spring and fall. In addition, the influences of coastal plume water from local rivers were identifiable on the inner-shelf in both winter and spring.
Such distinction between inner-shelf and mid-outer shelf in the dynamics of DIC, the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and saturation state index of aragonite (Ωarag) is also obvious. On the mid-outer shelf, the salinity normalized DIC (nDIC) fluctuated seasonally between 1974±9 and 2001±9 µmol kg-1. The decline of nDIC from winter to spring and spring to summer mainly results from CO2 outgassing, while the increase in nDIC from summer to fall and from fall to winter is due to entrainment of the carbon-enriched subsurface water. The pCO2 increases from a minimum of 344±9 μatm in winter to a maximum of 387±14 μatm in spring, which is in phase with temperature changes and the fluctuations of nDIC. The Ωarag ranged 3.28-3.68 with the highest value in summer but lowest value in winter, which is consistent with the seasonal cycles of the nDIC. Nearshore on the inner-shelf influenced by the CCC water in winter and the mid-outer shelf influenced by the PRP in summer, the spatial dynamics of sea surface pCO2 and Ωarag are modulated by both temperature and the water mass mixing between CCC, PRP, and shelf waters. Here, the high biological uptake sustained by nutrients in the CCC and PRP drawdown the pCO2 and augmented the Ωarag, while the CO2 sequestration enhanced the sea surface pCO2 but drawdown the Ωarag.
Our understanding of eutrophication-induced acidification in estuaries and coastal oceans is complicated by the seasonally and spatially changing interactions between physical and biochemical drivers. By combining the conservative mixing method and a physical-biogeochemical model, we present the seasonal and spatial dynamical analysis of eutrophication-induced acidification in the Pearl River Estuary in the northern South China Sea. In summer, the widespread eutrophication-induced acidification is regulated by two distinct physical drivers, which are the strengthened stratification in the hypoxia zone and the high turbidity in the Lingdingyang Bay. In the hypoxia zone, eutrophication-induced acidification is controlled by the combined effect of benthic remineralization and stratification, while it is dominantly regulated by local biochemical processes (nitrification and respiration) of the whole water column in other regions of the estuary. In winter with the enhanced vertical mixing, the eutrophication-induced acidification is still active in the Lingdingyang Bay, and its strength has largely decreased compared with summer condition. While for the hypoxia zone, the eutrophication-induced acidification peaks in summer and disappears in winter.
Plain Language Summary
Eutrophication in estuaries has accelerated the ocean acidification, which induced a negative impact on marine ecosystem. In the estuary, physical and biochemical processes lead to difficulties in understanding and evaluating the impact of eutrophication-induced acidification. High-resolution and coupled oceanographic models can reproduce the biogeochemical cycles in the marine system and present an integrated framework to understand ocean acidification. We revealed two distinct types of eutrophication-induced acidification in the estuary by using an oceanographic model. The model results show that these two types of eutrophication-induced acidification are regulated by different physical processes that are water stratification and turbidity, which result in their unique seasonal evolution patterns.