Posts Tagged 'global'



Multiple stressors of ocean ecosystems in the 21st century: projections with CMIP5 models

Ocean ecosystems are increasingly stressed by human-induced changes of their physical, chemical and biological environment. Among these changes, warming, acidification, deoxygenation and changes in primary productivity by marine phytoplankton can be considered as four of the major stressors of open ocean ecosystems. Due to rising atmospheric CO2 in the coming decades, these changes will be amplified. Here, we use the most recent simulations performed in the framework of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 to assess how these stressors may evolve over the course of the 21st century. The 10 Earth System Models used here project similar trends in ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation and reduced primary productivity for each of the IPCC’s representative concentration parthways (RCP) over the 21st century. For the “business-as-usual” scenario RCP8.5, the model-mean changes in 2090s (compared to 1990s) for sea surface temperature, sea surface pH, global O2 content and integrated primary productivity amount to +2.73 °C, −0.33 pH unit, −3.45% and −8.6%, respectively. For the high mitigation scenario RCP2.6, corresponding changes are +0.71 °C, −0.07 pH unit, −1.81% and −2.0% respectively, illustrating the effectiveness of extreme mitigation strategies. Although these stressors operate globally, they display distinct regional patterns. Large decreases in O2 and in pH are simulated in global ocean intermediate and mode waters, whereas large reductions in primary production are simulated in the tropics and in the North Atlantic. Although temperature and pH projections are robust across models, the same does not hold for projections of sub-surface O2 concentrations in the tropics and global and regional changes in net primary productivity.

Continue reading ‘Multiple stressors of ocean ecosystems in the 21st century: projections with CMIP5 models’

Climate change and ocean acidification impacts on lower trophic levels and the export of organic carbon to the deep ocean

Most future projections forecast significant and ongoing climate change during the 21st century, but with the severity of impacts dependent on efforts to restrain or reorganise human activity to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. A major sink for atmospheric CO2, and a key source of biological resources, the World Ocean is widely anticipated to undergo profound physical and – via ocean acidification – chemical changes as direct and indirect results of these emissions. Given strong biophysical coupling, the marine biota is also expected to experience strong changes in response to this anthropogenic forcing. Here we examine the large-scale response of ocean biogeochemistry to climate and acidification impacts during the 21st century for Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 2.6 and 8.5 using an intermediate complexity global ecosystem model, Medusa–2.0. The primary impact of future change lies in stratification-led declines in the availability of key nutrients in surface waters, which in turn leads to a global decrease (1990s vs. 2090s) in ocean productivity (−6.3%). This impact has knock-on consequences for the abundances of the low trophic level biogeochemical actors modelled by Medusa–2.0 (−5.8%), and these would be expected to similarly impact higher trophic level elements such as fisheries. Related impacts are found in the flux of organic material to seafloor communities (−40.7% at 1000 m), and in the volume of ocean suboxic zones (+12.5%). A sensitivity analysis removing an acidification feedback on calcification finds that change in this process significantly impacts benthic communities, suggesting that a better understanding of the OA-sensitivity of calcifying organisms, and their role in ballasting sinking organic carbon, may significantly improve forecasting of these ecosystems. For all processes, there is geographical variability in change, and changes are much more pronounced under RCP 8.5 than the RCP 2.6 scenario.

Continue reading ‘Climate change and ocean acidification impacts on lower trophic levels and the export of organic carbon to the deep ocean’

Geoengineering impact of open ocean dissolution of olivine on atmospheric CO2, surface ocean pH and marine biology

Ongoing global warming induced by anthropogenic emissions has opened the debate as to whether geoengineering is a ‘quick fix’ option. Here we analyse the intended and unintended effects of one specific geoengineering approach, which is enhanced weathering via the open ocean dissolution of the silicate-containing mineral olivine. This approach would not only reduce atmospheric CO2 and oppose surface ocean acidification, but would also impact on marine biology. If dissolved in the surface ocean, olivine sequesters 0.28 g carbon per g of olivine dissolved, similar to land-based enhanced weathering. Silicic acid input, a byproduct of the olivine dissolution, alters marine biology because silicate is in certain areas the limiting nutrient for diatoms. As a consequence, our model predicts a shift in phytoplankton species composition towards diatoms, altering the biological carbon pumps. Enhanced olivine dissolution, both on land and in the ocean, therefore needs to be considered as ocean fertilization. From dissolution kinetics we calculate that only olivine particles with a grain size of the order of 1 μm sink slowly enough to enable a nearly complete dissolution. The energy consumption for grinding to this small size might reduce the carbon sequestration efficiency by ~30%.

Continue reading ‘Geoengineering impact of open ocean dissolution of olivine on atmospheric CO2, surface ocean pH and marine biology’

Diurnal changes in seawater carbonate chemistry speciation at increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide

Natural variability in seawater pH and associated carbonate chemistry parameters is in part driven by biological activities such as photosynthesis and respiration. The amplitude of these variations is expected to increase with increasing seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the future, because of simultaneously decreasing buffer capacity. Here, we address this experimentally during a diurnal cycle in a mesocosm CO2 perturbation study. We show that for about the same amount of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) utilized in net community production diel variability in proton (H+) and CO2 concentrations was almost three times higher at CO2 levels of about 675 ± 65 in comparison with levels of 310 ± 30 μatm. With a simple model, adequately simulating our measurements, we visualize carbonate chemistry variability expected for different oceanic regions with relatively low or high net community production. Since enhanced diurnal variability in CO2 and proton concentration may require stronger cellular regulation in phytoplankton to maintain respective gradients, the ability to adjust may differ between communities adapted to low in comparison with high natural variability.

Continue reading ‘Diurnal changes in seawater carbonate chemistry speciation at increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide’

Ocean acidification limits temperature-induced poleward expansion of coral habitats around Japan (update)

Using results from four coupled global carbon cycle-climate models combined with in situ observations, we estimate the effects of future global warming and ocean acidification on potential habitats for tropical/subtropical and temperate coral communities in the seas around Japan. The suitability of coral habitats is classified on the basis of the currently observed regional ranges for temperature and saturation states with regard to aragonite (Ωarag). We find that, under the “business as usual” SRES A2 scenario, coral habitats are projected to expand northward by several hundred kilometers by the end of this century. At the same time, coral habitats are projected to become sandwiched between regions where the frequency of coral bleaching will increase, and regions where Ωarag will become too low to support sufficiently high calcification rates. As a result, the habitat suitable for tropical/subtropical corals around Japan may be reduced by half by the 2020s to 2030s, and is projected to disappear by the 2030s to 2040s. The habitat suitable for the temperate coral communities is also projected to decrease, although at a less pronounced rate, due to the higher tolerance of temperate corals for lowΩarag. Our study has two important caveats: first, it does not consider the potential adaptation of the coral communities, which would permit them to colonize habitats that are outside their current range. Second, it also does not consider whether or not coral communities can migrate quickly enough to actually occupy newly emerging habitats. As such, our results serve as a baseline for the assessment of the future evolution of coral habitats, but the consideration of important biological and ecological factors and feedbacks will be required to make more accurate projections.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification limits temperature-induced poleward expansion of coral habitats around Japan (update)’

Historical simulation and twenty-first century prediction of oceanic CO2 sink and pH change

A global ocean carbon cycle model based on the ocean general circulation model POP and the improved biogeochemical model OCMIP-2 is employed to simulate carbon cycle processes under the historically observed atmospheric CO2 concentration and different future scenarios (called Representative Concentration Pathways, or RCPs). The RCPs in this paper follow the design of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The model results show that the ocean absorbs CO2 from atmosphere and the absorbability will continue in the 21st century under the four RCPs. The net air-sea CO2 flux increased during the historical time and reached 1.87 Pg/a (calculated by carbon) in 2005; however, it would reach peak and then decrease in the 21st century. The ocean absorbs CO2 mainly in the mid latitude, and releases CO2 in the equator area. However, in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) area the ocean would change from source to sink under the rising CO2 concentration, including RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5. In 2100, the anthropogenic carbon would be transported to the 40°S in the Atlantic Ocean by the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), and also be transported to the north by the Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) along the Antarctic continent in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The ocean pH value is also simulated by the model. The pH decreased by 0.1 after the industrial revolution, and would continue to decrease in the 21st century. For the highest concentration scenario of RCP8.5, the global averaged pH would decrease by 0.43 to reach 7.73 due to the absorption of CO2 from atmosphere.

Continue reading ‘Historical simulation and twenty-first century prediction of oceanic CO2 sink and pH change’

Global calcite cycling constrained by sediment preservation controls

We assess the global balance of calcite export through the water column and burial in sediments as it varies regionally. We first drive a comprehensive 1-D model for sediment calcite preservation with globally gridded field observations and satellite-based syntheses. We then reformulate this model into a simpler five-parameter box model, and combine it with algorithms for surface calcite export and water column dissolution for a single expression for the vertical calcite balance. The resulting metamodel is optimized to fit the observed distributions of calcite burial flux. We quantify the degree to which calcite export, saturation state, organic carbon respiration, and lithogenic sedimentation modulate the burial of calcite. We find that 46% of burial and 88% of dissolution occurs in sediments overlain by undersaturated bottom water with sediment calcite burial strongly modulated by surface export. Relative to organic carbon export, we find surface calcite export skewed geographically toward relatively warm, oligotrophic areas dominated by small, prokaryotic phytoplankton. We assess century-scale projected impacts of warming and acidification on calcite export, finding high sensitive to inferred saturation state controls. With respect to long-term glacial cycling, our analysis supports the hypothesis that strong glacial abyssal stratification drives the lysocline toward much closer correspondence with the saturation horizon. Our analysis suggests that, over the transition from interglacial to glacial ocean, a resulting ∼0.029 PgC a−1 decrease in deep Atlantic, Indian and Southern Ocean calcite burial leads to slow increase in ocean alkalinity until Pacific mid-depth calcite burial increases to compensate.

Continue reading ‘Global calcite cycling constrained by sediment preservation controls’

Oxygen and indicators of stress for marine life in multi-model global warming projections

Decadal-to-century scale trends for a range of marine environmental variables are investigated using results from seven Earth System Models forced by a high greenhouse gas emission scenario. The models as a class represent the observation-based distribution of the fugacity of oxygen (fO2) and carbon dioxide (fCO2), and the logarithm of their ratio, i.e. the Respiration Index (RI), albeit major mismatches between observation-based and simulated values remain for individual models. All models project an increase in SST between 2 °C and 3 °C by year 2100, a decrease in upper ocean pH and in the saturation state of water with respect to calcium carbonate minerals, and a decrease in the total ocean inventory of dissolved oxygen by 2% to 4%. Projected fO2 changes in the thermocline show a complex pattern with both increasing and decreasing trends reflecting the subtle balance of different competing factors such as circulation, production, remineralisation, and temperature changes. Projected changes in the total volume of hypoxic and suboxic waters remain relatively small in all models. A widespread increase of fCO2 in the thermocline is projected. The median of the thermocline fCO2 distribution shifts from 350 μatm in year 1990 to 700–800 μatm in year 2100, primarily as a result of the invasion of anthropogenic carbon from the atmosphere and is responsible for the widespread decrease in the RI outside low oxygen regions. The co-occurrence of changes in a range of environmental variables indicates the need to further investigate their synergistic impacts on marine ecosystems and Earth System feedbacks.

Continue reading ‘Oxygen and indicators of stress for marine life in multi-model global warming projections’

The importance of the terrestrial weathering feedback for multi-millennial coral reef habitat recovery

Modern-day coral reefs have well defined environmental envelopes for light, sea surface temperature (SST) and seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωarag). We examine the changes in global coral reef habitat on multi-millennial timescales with regard to SST and Ωarag using a climate model including a three-dimensional ocean general circulation model, a fully coupled carbon cycle, and six different parameterizations for continental weathering (the UVic Earth System Climate Model). The model is forced with emission scenarios ranging from 1,000 Pg C to 5,000 Pg C total emissions. We find that the long-term climate change response is independent of the rate at which CO2 is emitted over the next few centuries. On millennial timescales, the weathering feedback introduces a significant uncertainty even for low emission scenarios. Weathering parameterizations based on atmospheric CO2 only display a different transient response than weathering parameterizations that are dependent on temperature. Although environmental conditions for SST and Ωarag stay globally hostile for coral reefs for millennia for our high emission scenarios, some weathering parameterizations induce a near-complete recovery of coral reef habitat to current conditions after 10,000 years, while others result in a collapse of coral reef habitat throughout our simulations. We find that the multi-millennial response in sea surface temperature (SST) substantially lags the aragonite saturation recovery in all configurations. This implies that if corals can naturally adapt over millennia by selecting thermally tolerant species to match warmer ocean temperatures, prospects for long-term recovery of coral reefs are better since Ωarag recovers more quickly than SST.

Continue reading ‘The importance of the terrestrial weathering feedback for multi-millennial coral reef habitat recovery’

Calcium carbonate production response to future ocean warming and acidification (update)

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are acidifying the ocean, affecting calcification rates in pelagic organisms, and thereby modifying the oceanic carbon and alkalinity cycles. However, the responses of pelagic calcifying organisms to acidification vary widely between species, contributing uncertainty to predictions of atmospheric CO2 and the resulting climate change. At the same time, ocean warming caused by rising CO2 is expected to drive increased growth rates of all pelagic organisms, including calcifiers. It thus remains unclear whether anthropogenic CO2 emissions will ultimately increase or decrease pelagic calcification rates. Here, we assess the importance of this uncertainty by introducing a dependence of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production on calcite saturation state (ΩCaCO3) in an intermediate complexity coupled carbon-climate model. In a series of model simulations, we examine the impact of several variants of this dependence on global ocean carbon cycling between 1800 and 3500 under two different CO2 emissions scenarios. Introducing a calcification-saturation state dependence has a significant effect on the vertical and surface horizontal alkalinity gradients, as well as on the removal of alkalinity from the ocean through CaCO3 burial. These changes result in an additional oceanic uptake of carbon when calcification depends on ΩCaCO3 (of up to 270 Pg C), compared to the case where calcification does not depend on acidification. In turn, this response causes a reduction of global surface air temperature of up to 0.4 °C in year 3500. Different versions of the model produced varying results, and narrowing this range of uncertainty will require better understanding of both temperature and acidification effects on pelagic calcifiers. Nevertheless, our results suggest that alkalinity observations can be used to constrain model results, and may not be consistent with the model versions that simulated stronger responses of CaCO3 production to changing saturation state.

Continue reading ‘Calcium carbonate production response to future ocean warming and acidification (update)’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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