Posts Tagged 'globalmodeling'

CO2 capture by pumping surface acidity to the deep ocean

The majority of IPCC scenarios call for active CO2 removal (CDR) to remain below 2oC of warm- ing. On geological timescales, ocean uptake regulates atmospheric CO2 concentration, with two homeostats driving CO2 uptake: dissolution of deep ocean calcite deposits and terrestrial weathering of silicate rocks, acting on 1ka to 100ka timescales, respectively. Many current ocean-based CDR proposals effectively act to accelerate the latter. Here we present a method which relies purely on the redistribution and dilution of acidity from a thin layer of the surface ocean to a thicker layer of deep ocean, with the aim of reducing surface acidification and accelerating the former carbonate homeostasis. This downward transport could be seen analogous to the action of the natural biological carbon pump. The method offers advantages over other ocean CDR methods and direct air capture approaches (DAC): the conveyance of mass is minimized (acidity is pumped in situ to depth), and expensive mining, grinding and distribution of alkaline material is eliminated. No dilute substance needs to be concentrated, avoiding the Sherwood’s Rule costs typically encountered in DAC. Finally, no terrestrial material is added to the ocean, avoiding significant alteration of seawater ion concentrations or issues with heavy metal toxicity encountered in mineral-based alkalinity schemes. The artificial transport of acidity accelerates the natural deep ocean compensation by calcium carbonate. It has been estimated that the total compensation capacity of the ocean is on the order of 1500GtC. We show through simulation that pumping of ocean acidity could remove up to 150GtC from the atmosphere by 2100 with- out excessive increase of local ocean pH. For an acidity release below 2000m, the relaxation half-life of CO2 return to the atmosphere was found to be ∼2500 years (∼1000yr without account- ing for carbonate dissolution), with ∼85% retained for at least 300 years. The uptake efficiency and residence time were found to vary with the location of acidity pumping, and optimal areas were determined. Requiring only local resources (ocean water and energy), this method could be uniquely suited to utilize otherwise-unusable open ocean energy sources at scale. We examine technological pathways that could be used to implement it and present a brief techno-economic estimate of 130-250$/tCO2 at current prices and as low as 93$/tCO2 under modest learning-curve assumptions.

Continue reading ‘CO2 capture by pumping surface acidity to the deep ocean’

OceanSODA-ETHZ: a global gridded data set of the surface ocean carbonate system for seasonal to decadal studies of ocean acidification (update)

Ocean acidification has profoundly altered the ocean’s carbonate chemistry since preindustrial times, with potentially serious consequences for marine life. Yet, no long-term, global observation-based data set exists that allows us to study changes in ocean acidification for all carbonate system parameters over the last few decades. Here, we fill this gap and present a methodologically consistent global data set of all relevant surface ocean parameters, i.e., dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (TA), partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2), pH, and the saturation state with respect to mineral CaCO3 (Ω) at a monthly resolution over the period 1985 through 2018 at a spatial resolution of 1∘×1∘. This data set, named OceanSODA-ETHZ, was created by extrapolating in time and space the surface ocean observations of pCO2 (from the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas, SOCAT) and total alkalinity (TA; from the Global Ocean Data Analysis Project, GLODAP) using the newly developed Geospatial Random Cluster Ensemble Regression (GRaCER) method (code available at This method is based on a two-step (cluster-regression) approach but extends it by considering an ensemble of such cluster regressions, leading to improved robustness. Surface ocean DIC, pH, and Ω were then computed from the globally mapped pCO2 and TA using the thermodynamic equations of the carbonate system. For the open ocean, the cluster-regression method estimates pCO2 and TA with global near-zero biases and root mean squared errors of 12 µatm and 13 µmol kg−1, respectively. Taking into account also the measurement and representation errors, the total uncertainty increases to 14 µatm and 21 µmol kg−1, respectively. We assess the fidelity of the computed parameters by comparing them to direct observations from GLODAP, finding surface ocean pH and DIC global biases of near zero, as well as root mean squared errors of 0.023 and 16 µmol kg−1, respectively. These uncertainties are very comparable to those expected by propagating the total uncertainty from pCO2 and TA through the thermodynamic computations, indicating a robust and conservative assessment of the uncertainties. We illustrate the potential of this new data set by analyzing the climatological mean seasonal cycles of the different parameters of the surface ocean carbonate system, highlighting their commonalities and differences. Further, this data set provides a novel constraint on the global- and basin-scale trends in ocean acidification for all parameters. Concretely, we find for the period 1990 through 2018 global mean trends of 8.6 ± 0.1 µmol kg−1 per decade for DIC, −0.016 ± 0.000 per decade for pH, 16.5 ± 0.1 µatm per decade for pCO2, and −0.07 ± 0.00 per decade for Ω. The OceanSODA-ETHZ data can be downloaded from (Gregor and Gruber2020).

Continue reading ‘OceanSODA-ETHZ: a global gridded data set of the surface ocean carbonate system for seasonal to decadal studies of ocean acidification (update)’

Potential of maritime transport for ocean liming and atmospheric CO2 removal

Proposals to increase ocean alkalinity may make an important contribution to meeting climate change net emission targets, while also helping to ameliorate the effects of ocean acidification. However, the practical feasibility of spreading large amounts of alkaline materials in the seawater is poorly understood. In this study, the potential of discharging calcium hydroxide (slaked lime, SL) using existing maritime transport is evaluated, at the global scale and for the Mediterranean Sea. The potential discharge of SL from existing vessels depends on many factors, mainly their number and load capacity, the distance traveled along the route, the frequency of reloading, and the discharge rate. The latter may be constrained by the localized pH increase in the wake of the ship, which could be detrimental for marine ecosystems. Based on maritime traffic data from the International Maritime Organization for bulk carriers and container ships, and assuming low discharge rates and 15% of the deadweight capacity dedicated for SL transport, the maximum SL potential discharge from all active vessels worldwide is estimated to be between 1.7 and 4.0 Gt/year. For the Mediterranean Sea, based on detailed maritime traffic data, a potential discharge of about 186 Mt/year is estimated. The discharge using a fleet of 1,000 new dedicated ships has also been discussed, with a potential distribution of 1.3 Gt/year. Using average literature values of CO2 removal per unit of SL added to the sea, the global potential of CO2 removal from SL discharge by existing or new ships is estimated at several Gt/year, depending on the discharge rate. Since the potential impacts of SL discharge on the marine environment in the ships’ wake limits the rate at which SL can be applied, an overview of methodologies for the assessment of SL concentration in the wake of the ships is presented. A first assessment performed with a three-dimensional non-reactive and a one-dimensional reactive fluid dynamic model simulating the shrinking of particle radii, shows that low discharge rates of a SL slurry lead to pH variations of about 1 unit for a duration of just a few minutes.

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Bottom trawling threatens future climate refugia of Rhodoliths globally

Climate driven range shifts are driving the redistribution of marine species and threatening the functioning and stability of marine ecosystems. For species that are the structural basis of marine ecosystems, such effects can be magnified into drastic loss of ecosystem functioning and resilience. Rhodoliths are unattached calcareous red algae that provide key complex three-dimensional habitats for highly diverse biological communities. These globally distributed biodiversity hotspots are increasingly threatened by ongoing environmental changes, mainly ocean acidification and warming, with wide negative impacts anticipated in the years to come. These are superimposed upon major local stressors caused by direct destructive impacts, such as bottom trawling, which act synergistically in the deterioration of the rhodolith ecosystem health and function. Anticipating the potential impacts of future environmental changes on the rhodolith biome may inform timely mitigation strategies integrating local effects of bottom trawling over vulnerable areas at global scales. This study aimed to identify future climate refugia, as regions where persistence is predicted under contrasting climate scenarios, and to analyze their trawling threat levels. This was approached by developing species distribution models with ecologically relevant environmental predictors, combined with the development of a global bottom trawling intensity index to identify heavily fished regions overlaying rhodoliths. Our results revealed the importance of light, thermal stress and pH driving the global distribution of rhodoliths. Future projections showed poleward expansions and contractions of suitable habitats at lower latitudes, structuring cryptic depth refugia, particularly evident under the more severe warming scenario RCP 8.5. Our results suggest that if management and conservation measures are not taken, bottom trawling may directly threaten the persistence of key rhodolith refugia. Since rhodoliths have slow growth rates, high sensitivity and ecological importance, understanding how their current and future distribution might be susceptible to bottom trawling pressure, may contribute to determine the fate of both the species and their associated communities.

Continue reading ‘Bottom trawling threatens future climate refugia of Rhodoliths globally’

Impacts of climate change on methylmercury formation and bioaccumulation in the 21st century ocean


  • Seawater MeHg may increase in the polar oceans and decrease in the North Atlantic in 2100
  • Plankton MeHg may increase at high latitudes and decrease at mid to low latitudes
  • Ocean acidification leads to different spatial patterns compared with physical factors


Climate change-driven alterations to marine biogeochemistry will impact the formation and trophic transfer of the bioaccumulative neurotoxin methylmercury (MeHg) in the global ocean. We use a 3D model to examine how MeHg might respond to changes in primary production and plankton community driven by ocean acidification and alterations in physical factors (e.g., ocean temperature, circulation). Productivity changes lead to significant increases in seawater MeHg in the polar oceans and a decrease in the North Atlantic Ocean. Phytoplankton MeHg may increase at high latitudes and decrease in lower latitudes due to shifts in community structure. Ocean acidification might enhance phytoplankton MeHg uptake by promoting the growth of a small species that efficiently accumulate MeHg. Non-linearities in the food web structure lead to differing magnitudes of zooplankton MeHg changes relative to those for phytoplankton. Climate-driven shifts in marine biogeochemistry thus need to be considered when evaluating future trajectories in biological MeHg concentrations.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of climate change on methylmercury formation and bioaccumulation in the 21st century ocean’

Assimilating synthetic Biogeochemical-Argo and ocean colour observations into a global ocean model to inform observing system design

A set of observing system simulation experiments was performed. This assessed the impact on global ocean biogeochemical reanalyses of assimilating chlorophyll from remotely sensed ocean colour and in situ observations of chlorophyll, nitrate, oxygen, and pH from a proposed array of Biogeochemical-Argo (BGC-Argo) floats. Two potential BGC-Argo array distributions were tested: one for which biogeochemical sensors are placed on all current Argo floats and one for which biogeochemical sensors are placed on a quarter of current Argo floats. Assimilating BGC-Argo data greatly improved model results throughout the water column. This included surface partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2), which is an important output of reanalyses. In terms of surface chlorophyll, assimilating ocean colour effectively constrained the model, with BGC-Argo providing no added benefit at the global scale. The vertical distribution of chlorophyll was improved by assimilating BGC-Argo data. Both BGC-Argo array distributions gave benefits, with greater improvements seen with more observations. From the point of view of ocean reanalysis, it is recommended to proceed with development of BGC-Argo as a priority. The proposed array of 1000 floats will lead to clear improvements in reanalyses, with a larger array likely to bring further benefits. The ocean colour satellite observing system should also be maintained, as ocean colour and BGC-Argo will provide complementary benefits.

Continue reading ‘Assimilating synthetic Biogeochemical-Argo and ocean colour observations into a global ocean model to inform observing system design’

Chapter: Amplifying factors leading to the collapse of primary producers during the Chicxulub impact and Deccan Traps eruptions

The latest Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) through earliest Paleogene (Danian) interval was a time marked by one of the five major mass extinctions in Earth’s history. The synthesis of published data permits the temporal correlation of the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary crisis with two major geological events: (1) the Chicxulub impact, discovered in the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico), and (2) eruption of the Deccan Traps large igneous province, located on the west-central Indian plateau. In this study, environmental and biological consequences from the Chicxulub impact and emplacement of the Deccan continental flood basalts were explored using a climate-carbon-biodiversity coupled model called the ECO-GEOCLIM model. The novelty of this study was investigation into the ways in which abiotic factors (temperature, pH, and calcite saturation state) acted on various marine organisms to determine the primary productivity and biodiversity changes in response to a drastic environmental change. Results showed that the combination of Deccan volcanism with a 10-km-diameter impactor would lead to global warming (3.5 degrees C) caused by rising carbon dioxide (CO 2) concentration (+470 ppmv), interrupted by a succession of short-term cooling events, provided by a “shielding effect” due to the formation of sulfate aerosols. The consequences related to these climate changes were the decrease of the surface ocean pH by 0.2 (from 8.0 to 7.8), while the deep ocean pH dropped by 0.4 (from 7.8 to 7.4). Without requiring any additional perturbations, these environmental disturbances led to a drastic decrease of the biomass of calcifying species and their biodiversity by similar to 80%, while the biodiversity of noncalcifying species was reduced by similar to 60%. We also suggest that the short-lived acidification caused by the Chicxulub impact, when combined with eruption of the Deccan Traps, may explain the severity of the extinction among pelagic calcifying species.

Continue reading ‘Chapter: Amplifying factors leading to the collapse of primary producers during the Chicxulub impact and Deccan Traps eruptions’

Hysteresis of the Earth system under positive and negative CO2 emissions

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere is part of all emission scenarios of the IPCC that limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees C. Here, we investigate hysteresis characteristics in 4x pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentration scenarios with exponentially increasing and decreasing CO2 using the Bern3D-LPX Earth system model of intermediate complexity. The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and the rate of CDR are systematically varied. Hysteresis is quantified as the difference in a variable between the up and down pathway at identical cumulative carbon emissions. Typically, hysteresis increases non-linearly with increasing ECS, while its dependency on the CDR rate varies across variables. Large hysteresis is found for global surface air temperature (Delta SAT), upper ocean heat content, ocean deoxygenation, and acidification. We find distinct spatial patterns of hysteresis: Delta SAT exhibits strong polar amplification, hysteresis in O-2 is both positive and negative depending on the interplay between changes in remineralization of organic matter and ventilation. Due to hysteresis, sustained negative emissions are required to return to and keep a CO2 and warming target, particularly for high climate sensitivities and the large overshoot scenario considered here. Our results suggest, that not emitting carbon in the first place is preferable over carbon dioxide removal, even if technologies would exist to efficiently remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it away safely.

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Assessing coral reef condition indicators for local and global stressors using Bayesian networks

Coral reefs are highly valued ecosystems currently threatened by both local and global stressors. Given the importance of coral reef ecosystems, a Bayesian network approach can benefit an evaluation of threats to reef condition. To this end, we used data to evaluate the overlap between local stressors (overfishing and destructive fishing, watershed‐based pollution, marine‐based pollution, and coastal development threats), global stressors (acidification and thermal stress) and management effectiveness with indicators of coral reef health (live coral index, live coral cover, population bleaching, colony bleaching and recently killed corals). Each of the coral health indicators had Bayesian networks constructed globally and for Pacific, Atlantic, Australia, Middle East, Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia coral reef locations. Sensitivity analysis helped evaluate the strength of the relationships between different stressors and reef condition indicators. The relationships between indicators and stressors were also evaluated with conditional analyses of linear and nonlinear interactions. In this process, a standardized direct effects analysis was emphasized with a target mean analysis to predict changes in the mean value of the reef indicator from individual changes to the distribution of the predictor variables. The standardized direct effects analysis identified higher risks in the Middle East for watershed‐based pollution with population bleaching and Australia for overfishing and destructive fishing with living coral. For thermal stress, colony bleaching and recently killed coral in the Indian Ocean were found to have the strongest direct associations. For acidification threat, Australia had a relatively strong association with colony bleaching and the Middle East had the strongest overall association with recently killed coral although extrapolated spatial data were used for the acidification estimates. The Bayesian network approach helped to explore the relationships among existing databases used for policy development in coral reef management by examining the sensitivity of multiple indicators of reef condition to spatially‐distributed stress.

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Global trends of ocean CO2 sink and ocean acidification: an observation-based reconstruction of surface ocean inorganic carbon variables

Ocean acidification is likely to impact marine ecosystems and human societies adversely and is a carbon cycle issue of great concern. Projecting the degree of ocean acidification and the carbon-climate feedback will require understanding the current status, variability, and trends of ocean inorganic carbon system variables and the ocean carbon sink. With this goal in mind, we reconstructed total alkalinity (TA), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), CO2 partial pressure (pCO2sea), sea–air CO2 flux, pH, and aragonite saturation state (Ωarg) for the global ocean based on measurements of pCO2sea and TA. We used a multiple linear regression approach to derive relationships to explain TA and DIC and obtained monthly 1° × 1° gridded values of TA and DIC for the period 1993–2018. These data were converted to pCO2sea, pH, and Ωarg, and monthly sea-air CO2 fluxes were obtained in combination with atmospheric CO2. Mean annual sea–air CO2 flux and its rate of change were estimated to be − 2.0 ± 0.5 PgC year−1 and − 0.3 (PgC year−1) decade−1, respectively. Our analysis revealed that oceanic CO2 uptake decreased during the 1990s and has been increasing since 2000. Our estimate of the globally averaged rate of pH change, − 0.0181 ± 0.0001 decade−1, was consistent with that expected from the trend of atmospheric CO2 growth. However, rates of decline of pH were relatively slow in the Southern Ocean (− 0.0165 ± 0.0001·decade−1) and in the western equatorial Pacific (− 0.0148 ± 0.0002·decade−1). Our estimate of the globally averaged rate of pH change can be used to verify Indicator 14.3.1 of Sustainable Development Goals.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book