Posts Tagged 'globalmodeling'

Neural networks and the seawater CO2 system. From the global ocean to the Ría de Vigo

This doctoral dissertation is structured in six chapters and two appendices. From this point the reader is warned about the independent numbering in each chapter, both for sections and subsections as well as for figures and tables, that is, the numbering restarts at the beginning of each chapter. Chapter I is divided into two parts. On the one hand, the topic of the doctoral dissertation is introduced in a general way to put in context the different research studies that are part of it. This introduction presents the key concepts on climate change and ocean acidification necessary to approach the reading of the following chapters. On the other hand, the main and secondary objectives that are addressed in the next chapters are detailed. Chapter II develops the construction of a global and seasonal climatology of total alkalinity. The chapter details for the first time in the thesis the use of neural networks. This methodology is used throughout the manuscript, highlighting the peculiarities associated with each study in each of the chapters where it is applied. This chapter has been published in Earth System Science Data: https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-11-1109-2019 Chapter III describes the development of a total dissolved inorganic carbon climatology. In general terms, a methodology similar to that of chapter II is used, although with certain relevant nuances such as the inclusion of a new database. In this chapter, a pCO2 climatology is also generated in a secondary way to evaluate the consistency between the two climatologies previously generated in this thesis. This chapter has been published in Earth System Science Data: https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-12-1725-2020.


Chapter IV completely changes the scale of the previous two chapters and focuses on the study of sweater CO2 chemistry system on a regional scale. Specifically, neural networks are used to generate time series of total alkalinity and pH at various locations in the Ría de Vigo. From the time series, the magnitude of seasonal variability and interannual trends for these variables are analyzed. This chapter has been published in Biogeosciences Discussions: https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2021-33, 2021 Chapter V contains an analysis of the variability of the hydrogen ion concentration and the aragonite saturation state in the Ría de Vigo. This analysis is carried out from the time series of these variables that are constructed thanks to the study developed in chapter IV. Chapters II to V are structured in the same way as a typical scientific article, thus containing an introduction, methodology, results, discussion and conclusions about each study. Finally, chapter VI summarizes the main conclusions derived from the complete work shown through this doctoral thesis. It is worth noting the inclusion of two appendices in the final part of the thesis. Appendix I details the meaning of each of the acronyms, abbreviations and symbols used throughout the manuscript. Appendix II contains a summary of the doctoral dissertation in Spanish

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SURFER v2.0: a flexible and simple model linking anthropogenic CO2 emissions and solar radiation modification to ocean acidification and sea level rise

We present SURFER, a novel reduced model for estimating the impact of CO2 emissions and solar radiation modification options on sea level rise and ocean acidification over timescales of several thousands of years. SURFER has been designed for the analysis of CO2 emission and solar radiation modification policies, for supporting the computation of optimal (CO2 emission and solar radiation modification) policies and for the study of commitment and responsibility under uncertainty. The model is based on a combination of conservation laws for the masses of atmospheric and oceanic carbon and for the oceanic temperature anomalies, and of ad-hoc parameterisations for the different sea level rise contributors: ice sheets, glaciers and ocean thermal expansion. It consists of 9 loosely coupled ordinary differential equations, is understandable, fast and easy to modify and calibrate. It reproduces the results of more sophisticated, high-dimensional earth system models on timescales up to millennia.

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Assessing the future carbon budget through the lens of policy-driven acidification and temperature targets

Basing a future carbon budget on warming targets is subject to uncertainty due to uncertainty in the relationship between carbon emissions and warming, and may not prevent dangerous change throughout the entire climate system. Here, we use a climate emulator to constrain a future carbon budget that is more representative by using a combination of both warming and ocean acidification targets. The warming targets considered are the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 and 2°C; the acidification targets are -0.17 and -0.21 pH units informed by aragonite saturation states. Considering acidification targets in conjunction with warming targets is found to narrow the uncertainty in the future carbon budget, especially in situations where the acidification target is more stringent than, or of similar stringency to, the warming target. Considering a strict combination of the two more stringent targets (both targets of 1.5°C warming and -0.17 acidification must be met), the carbon budget ranges from -74.0 to 129.8PgC. This reduces uncertainty in the carbon budget from 286.2PgC to 203.8PgC (29%). Assuming an emissions rate held constant since 2021 (which is a conservative assumption), the budget towards both targets was either spent by 2019, or will be spent by 2026.

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The representation of alkalinity and the carbonate pump from CMIP5 to CMIP6 ESMs and implications for the ocean carbon cycle

Ocean alkalinity is critical to the uptake of atmospheric carbon in surface waters and provides buffering capacity towards associated acidification. However, unlike dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), alkalinity is not directly impacted by anthropogenic carbon emissions. Within the context of projections of future ocean carbon uptake and potential ecosystem impacts, especially through Coupled Model Intercomparison Projects (CMIPs), the representation of alkalinity and the main driver of its distribution in the ocean interior, the calcium carbonate cycle, have often been overlooked. Here we track the changes from CMIP5 to CMIP6 with respect to the Earth system model (ESM) representation of alkalinity and the carbonate pump which depletes the surface ocean in alkalinity through biological production of calcium carbonate, and releases it at depth through export and dissolution. We report a significant improvement in the representation of alkalinity in CMIP6 ESMs relative to those in CMIP5. This improvement can be explained in part by an increase in calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production for some ESMs, which redistributes alkalinity at the surface and strengthens its vertical gradient in the water column. We were able to constrain a PIC export estimate of 51–70 Tmol yr-1 at 100 m for the ESMs to match the observed vertical gradient of alkalinity. Biases in the vertical profile of DIC have also significantly decreased, especially with the enhancement of the carbonate pump, but the representation of the saturation horizons has slightly worsened in contrast. Reviewing the representation of the CaCO3 cycle across CMIP5/6, we find a substantial range of parameterizations. While all biogeochemical models currently represent pelagic calcification, they do so implicitly, and they do not represent benthic calcification. In addition, most models simulate marine calcite but not aragonite. In CMIP6 certain model groups have increased the complexity of simulated CaCO3 production, sinking, dissolution and sedimentation. However, this is insufficient to explain the overall improvement in the alkalinity representation, which is therefore likely a result of improved marine biogeochemistry model tuning or ad hoc parameterizations. We find differences in the way ocean alkalinity is initialized that lead to offsets of up to 1 % in the global alkalinity inventory of certain models. These initialization biases should be addressed in future CMIPs by adopting accurate unit conversions. Although modelers aim to balance the global alkalinity budget in ESMs in order to limit drift in ocean carbon uptake under preindustrial conditions, varying assumptions in the closure of the budget have the potential to influence projections of future carbon uptake. For instance, in many models, carbonate production, dissolution and burial are independent of the seawater saturation state, and when considered, the range of sensitivities is substantial. As such, the future impact of ocean acidification on the carbonate pump, and in turn ocean carbon uptake, is potentially underestimated in current ESMs and insufficiently constrained.

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Modified future diurnal variability of the global surface ocean CO2 system

Our understanding of how increasing atmospheric CO2 and climate change influences the marine CO2 system and in turn ecosystems, has increasingly focussed on perturbations to carbonate chemistry variability. This variability can affect ocean-climate feedbacks and has been shown to influence marine ecosystems. The seasonal variability of the ocean CO2 system has already changed, with enhanced seasonal variations in the surface ocean pCO2 over recent decades and further amplification projected by models over the 21st century. Mesocosm studies and CO2 vent sites indicate that diurnal variability of the CO2 system, the amplitude of which in extreme events can exceed that of mean seasonal variability, is also likely to be altered by climate change. Here we modified a global ocean biogeochemical model to resolve physically and biologically driven diurnal variability of the ocean CO2 system. Forcing the model with 3-hourly atmospheric outputs derived from an Earth system model, we explore how surface ocean diurnal variability responds to historical changes and project how it changes under two contrasting 21st century emissions scenarios. Compared to preindustrial values, the global mean diurnal amplitude of pCO2 increases by 4.8 μatm (+226 %) in the high-emissions scenario but only 1.2 μatm (+55 %) in the high-mitigation scenario. The probability of extreme diurnal amplitudes of pCO2 and [H+] is also affected, with 30- to 60-fold increases relative to the preindustrial under high twenty-first century emissions. The main driver of heightened pCO2 diurnal variability is the enhanced sensitivity of pCO2 to changes in temperature as the ocean absorbs atmospheric CO2. Our projections suggest that organisms in the future ocean will be exposed to enhanced diurnal variability in pCO2 and [H+], with likely increases in the associated metabolic cost that such variability imposes.

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Cascading effects augment the direct impact of CO2 on phytoplankton growth in a biogeochemical model

Atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations are rising at an unprecedented rate. Laboratory studies indicate a positive effect of rising CO2 on phytoplankton growth until an optimum is reached, after which the negative impact of accompanying acidification dominates. Here, we implemented carbonate system sensitivities of phytoplankton growth into our global biogeochemical model FESOM-REcoM and accounted explicitly for coccolithophores as the group most sensitive to CO2. In idealized simulations in which solely the atmospheric CO2 mixing ratio was modified, changes in competitive fitness and biomass are not only caused by the direct effects of CO2, but also by indirect effects via nutrient and light limitation as well as grazing. These cascading effects can both amplify or dampen phytoplankton responses to changing ocean pCO2 levels. For example, coccolithophore growth is negatively affected both directly by future pCO2 and indirectly by changes in light limitation, but these effects are compensated by a weakened nutrient limitation resulting from the decrease in small-phytoplankton biomass. In the Southern Ocean, future pCO2 decreases small-phytoplankton biomass and hereby the preferred prey of zooplankton, which reduces the grazing pressure on diatoms and allows them to proliferate more strongly. In simulations that encompass CO2-driven warming and acidification, our model reveals that recent observed changes in North Atlantic coccolithophore biomass are driven primarily by warming and not by CO2. Our results highlight that CO2 can change the effects of other environmental drivers on phytoplankton growth, and that cascading effects may play an important role in projections of future net primary production.

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Enhance seasonal amplitude of atmospheric CO2 by the changing Southern Ocean carbon sink

The enhanced seasonal amplitude of atmospheric CO2 has been viewed so far primarily as a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon. Yet, analyses of atmospheric CO2 records from 49 stations between 1980 and 2018 reveal substantial trends and variations in this amplitude globally. While no significant trends can be discerned before 2000 in most places, strong positive trends emerge after 2000 in the southern high latitudes. Using factorial simulations with an atmospheric transport model and analyses of surface ocean Pco2 observations, we show that the increase is best explained by the onset of increasing seasonality of air-sea CO2 exchange over the Southern Ocean around 2000. Underlying these changes is the long-term ocean acidification trend that tends to enhance the seasonality of the air-sea fluxes, but this trend is modified by the decadal variability of the Southern Ocean carbon sink. The seasonal variations of atmospheric CO2 thus emerge as a sensitive recorder of the variations of the Southern Ocean carbon sink.

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Source-labeled anthropogenic carbon reveals a large shift of preindustrial carbon from the ocean to the atmosphere

Abstract

Two centuries of anthropogenic CO2 emissions have increased the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere and the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentration of the ocean compared to preindustrial times. These anthropogenic carbon perturbations are often equated to the amount of anthropogenically emitted carbon in the atmosphere or ocean, which ignores the possibility of a shift of natural carbon between the oceanic and atmospheric carbon reservoirs. Here we use a data-assimilated ocean circulation model and numerical tracers akin to ideal isotopes to label carbon when it is emitted by anthropogenic sources. We find that emitted carbon accounts for only about 45% of the atmospheric CO2 increase since preindustrial times, the remaining 55% being natural CO2 that outgassed from the ocean in response to anthropogenically emitted carbon invading the ocean. This outgassing is driven by the order-10 seawater carbonate buffer factor which causes increased leakage of natural CO2 as DIC concentrations increase. By 2020, the ocean had outgassed ∼159 Pg of natural carbon, which is counteracted by the ocean absorbing ∼347 Pg of emitted carbon, about 1.8 times more than the net increase in oceanic carbon storage of ∼188 PgC. These results do not challenge existing estimates of anthropogenically driven changes in atmospheric or oceanic carbon inventories, but they shed new light on the composition of these changes and the fate of anthropogenically emitted carbon in the Earth system.

Key Points

  • Anthropogenically emitted carbon accounts for about half of the atmospheric CO2 increase since preindustrial times
  • The remaining half of the atmospheric CO2 increase is due to outgassing of preindustrial carbon from the ocean
  • By 2020, the ocean had lost 1 preindustrial CO2 molecule for every 2.2 anthropogenically emitted CO2 molecules gained
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Co-occurring anthropogenic stressors reduce the timeframe of environmental viability for the world’s coral reefs

Anthropogenic disturbances are posing unprecedented challenges to the persistence of ecosystems worldwide. The speed at which these disturbances reach an ecosystem’s tolerance thresholds will determine the time available for adaptation and conservation. Here, we aim to calculate the year after which a given environmental stressor permanently exceeds the bounds of an ecosystem’s tolerance. Ecosystem thresholds are here defined as limits in a given stressor beyond which ecosystems have showed considerable changes in community assembly and functioning, becoming remnants of what they once were, but not necessarily leading to species extirpation or extinction. Using the world’s coral reefs as a case example, we show that the projected effects of marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, storms, land-based pollution, and local human stressors are being underestimated considerably by looking at disturbances independently. Given the spatial complementarity in which numerous disturbances impact the world’s coral reefs, we show that the timelines of environmental suitability are halved when all disturbances are analyzed simultaneously, as opposed to independently. Under business-as-usual scenarios, the median year after which environmental conditions become unsuitable for the world’s remaining coral reefs was, at worse, 2050 for any one disturbance alone (28 years left); but when analyzed concurrently, this date was shortened to 2035 (13 years left). When analyzed together, disturbances reduced the date of environmental suitability because areas that may remain suitable under one disturbance could become unsuitable by any of several other variables. The significance of co-occurring disturbances at reducing timeframes of environmental suitability was evident even under optimistic scenarios. The best-case scenario, characterized by strong mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and optimistic human development, resulted in 41% of global coral reefs with unsuitable conditions by 2100 under any one disturbance independently; yet when analyzed in combination up to 64% of the world’s coral reefs could face unsuitable environmental conditions by one disturbance or another. Under the worst-case scenario, nearly all coral reef ecosystems worldwide (approximately 99%) will permanently face unsuitable conditions by 2055 in at least one of the disturbances analyzed. Prior studies have indicated the projected dire effects of climate change on coral reefs by mid-century; by analyzing a multitude of projected disturbances, our study reveals a much more severe prognosis for the world’s coral reefs as they have significantly less time to adapt while highlighting the urgent need to tackle available solutions to human disturbances.

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Observation-constrained estimates of the global ocean carbon sink from Earth system models

The ocean slows global warming by currently taking up around one-quarter of all human-made CO2 emissions. However, estimates of the ocean anthropogenic carbon uptake vary across various observation-based and model-based approaches. Here, we show that the global ocean anthropogenic carbon sink simulated by Earth system models can be constrained by two physical parameters, the present-day sea surface salinity in the subtropical–polar frontal zone in the Southern Ocean and the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, and one biogeochemical parameter, the Revelle factor of the global surface ocean. The Revelle factor quantifies the chemical capacity of seawater to take up carbon for a given increase in atmospheric CO2. By exploiting this three-dimensional emergent constraint with observations, we provide a new model- and observation-based estimate of the past, present, and future global ocean anthropogenic carbon sink and show that the ocean carbon sink is 9 %–11 % larger than previously estimated. Furthermore, the constraint reduces uncertainties of the past and present global ocean anthropogenic carbon sink by 42 %–59 % and the future sink by 32 %–62 % depending on the scenario, allowing for a better understanding of the global carbon cycle and better-targeted climate and ocean policies. Our constrained results are in good agreement with the anthropogenic carbon air–sea flux estimates over the last three decades based on observations of the CO2 partial pressure at the ocean surface in the Global Carbon Budget 2021, and they suggest that existing hindcast ocean-only model simulations underestimate the global ocean anthropogenic carbon sink. The key parameters identified here for the ocean anthropogenic carbon sink should be quantified when presenting simulated ocean anthropogenic carbon uptake as in the Global Carbon Budget and be used to adjust these simulated estimates if necessary. The larger ocean carbon sink results in enhanced ocean acidification over the 21st century, which further threatens marine ecosystems by reducing the water volume that is projected to be undersaturated towards aragonite by around 3.7×106–7.4×106 km3 more than originally projected.

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Vulnerability of exploited deep-sea demersal species to ocean warming, deoxygenation, and acidification

Vulnerability of marine species to climate change (including ocean acidification, deoxygenation, and associated changes in food supply) depends on species’ ecological and biological characteristics. Most existing assessments focus on coastal species but systematic analysis of climate vulnerability for the deep sea is lacking. Here, we combine a fuzzy logic expert system with species biogeographical data to assess the risks of climate impacts to the population viability of 32 species of exploited demersal deep-sea species across the global ocean. Climatic hazards are projected to emerge from historical variabilities in all the recorded habitats of the studied species by the mid-twenty-first century. Species that are both at very high risk of climate impacts and highly vulnerable to fishing include Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni), rose fish (Sebastes norvegicus), roughhead grenadier (Macrourus berglax), Baird’s slickhead (Alepocephalus bairdii), cusk (Brosme brosme), and Portuguese dogfish (Centroscymnus coelepis). Most exploited deep-sea fishes are likely to be at higher risk of local, or even global, extinction than previously assessed because of their high vulnerability to both climate change and fishing. Spatially, a high concentration of deep-sea species that are climate vulnerable is predicted in the northern Atlantic Ocean and the Indo-Pacific region. Aligning carbon mitigation with improved fisheries management offers opportunities for overall risk reduction in the coming decades. Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) have an obligation to incorporate climate change in their deliberations. In addition, deep-sea areas that are not currently managed by RFMOs should be included in existing or new international governance institutions or arrangements.

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Compound marine heatwaves and ocean acidity extremes

Compound MHW-OAX events, during which marine heatwaves (MHWs) co-occur with ocean acidity extreme (OAX) events, can have larger impacts on marine ecosystems than the individual extremes. Using monthly open-ocean observations over the period 1982–2019, we show that globally 1.8 in 100 months (or about one out of five present-day MHW months) are compound MHW-OAX event months under a present-day baseline, almost twice as many as expected for 90th percentile extreme event exceedances if MHWs and OAX events were statistically independent. Compound MHW-OAX events are most likely in the subtropics (2.7 in 100 months; 10°−40° latitude) and less likely in the equatorial Pacific and the mid-to-high latitudes (0.7 in 100 months; >40° latitude). The likelihood pattern results from opposing effects of temperature and dissolved inorganic carbon on [H+]. The likelihood is higher where the positive effect on [H+] from increased temperatures during MHWs outweighs the negative effect on [H+] from co-occurring decreases in dissolved inorganic carbon. Daily model output from a large-ensemble simulation of an Earth system model is analyzed to assess changes in the MHW-OAX likelihood under climate change. The projected long-term mean warming and acidification trends have the largest effect on the number of MHW-OAX days per year, increasing it from 12 to 265 days per year at 2 °C global warming relative to a fixed pre-industrial baseline. Even when long-term trends are removed, an increase in [H+] variability leads to a 60% increase in the number of MHW-OAX days under 2 °C global warming. These projected increases may cause severe impacts on marine ecosystems.

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Limits and CO2 equilibration of near-coast alkalinity enhancement

Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) has recently gained attention as a potential method for negative emissions at gigatonne scale, with near-coast OAE operations being economically favorable due to proximity to mineral and energy sources. In this paper we study critical questions which determine the scale and viability of OAE: Which coastal locations are able to sustain a large flux of alkalinity at minimal pH and ΩArag (aragonite saturation) changes? What is the interference distance between adjacent OAE projects? How much CO2 is absorbed per unit of alkalinity added? How quickly does the induced CO2 deficiency equilibrate with the atmosphere?

Using the LLC270 (0.3deg) ECCO global circulation model we find that the steady-state OAE rate varies over 1–2 orders of magnitude between different coasts and exhibits complex patterns and non-local dependencies which vary from region to region. In general, OAE in areas of strong coastal currents allow the largest fluxes and depending on the direction of coastal currents, neighboring OAE sites can exhibit dependencies as far as 400 km or more. We found that within relatively conservative constraints set on ∆pH or ∆Omega, most regional stretches of coastline are able to accommodate on the order of tens to hundreds of megatonnes of negative emissions within 300 km of the coast. We conclude that near-coastal OAE has the potential to scale globally to several GtCO2/yr of drawdown with conservative pH constraints, if the effort is spread over the majority of available coastlines.

Depending on the location, we find a diverse set of equilibration kinetics, determined by the interplay of gas exchange and surface residence time. Most locations reach an uptake-efficiency plateau of 0.6–0.8mol CO2 per mol of alkalinity after 3–4 years, after which there is little further CO2 uptake. The most ideal locations, reaching an uptake of around 0.8 include north Madagascar, San Francisco, Brazil, Peru and locations close to the southern ocean such as Tasmania, Kerguelen and Patagonia, where the gas exchange appears to occur faster than the surface residence time. Some locations (e.g. Hawaii) take significantly longer to equilibrate (up to 8–10 years), though can still eventually achieve high uptake. If the alkalinity released advects into regions of significant downwelling (e.g. around Iceland) up to half of the OAE potential can be lost to bottom waters.

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The changing ocean carbon sink in the earth system

Eunice Foote, who was the first to measure the solar heating of CO2 in her early experiments already in the 1850s noted: “An atmosphere of that gas would give to our Earth a high temperature“ (Foote, 1856). Indeed, our planet is warming unprecedently fast due to rising anthropogenic CO2 emissions (Masson-Delmotte et al., 2021). Next to catastrophic floodings, wildfires and droughts on land, with tragic consequences for people, the ocean silently suffers from the ongoing heating, acidification, and deoxygenation with tragic impacts for marine systems.

The ocean plays an essential role in regulating Earth’s climate; it is also essential for regulating the Earth’s carbon cycle. The ocean contains around 38,000 Gt of carbon. This is 16 times more than the terrestrial biosphere (plant and the underlying soils), and about 60 times more than the pre-industrial atmosphere (Canadell et al., 2021). Therefore, even a small perturbation to the ocean carbon content by changing its capacity to store carbon would impact atmospheric CO2 concentrations (Fig.1.1), making the ocean carbon sink a major regulator of the Earth’s climate on a time scale of hundreds to thousands of years. As the ocean currently continuously absorbs anthropogenic carbon from the atmosphere, it thereby has a key role in moderating ongoing climate change.

Based on the Global Carbon Budget (GCB) estimates (Friedlingstein et al., 2020), the global ocean has already taken up about one third of the cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions (Fig.1.2). The strength of the ocean carbon sink is determined by chemical reactions in seawater (carbonate system), biological processes (photosynthesis, export flux, and remineralization by aerobic and anaerobic respiration), and physical processes (including ocean circulation and vertical mixing). But even though these key mechanisms are identified (Landschutzer et al., 2021), there are considerable uncertainties regarding their interannual and decadal variations, as well as their susceptibility to ongoing climate change. Here, a major uncertainty arises from the lack of knowledge regarding the contribution of the natural variability of the climate system (Ilyina, 2016).

In this essay, I present my research contributions based on my papers explicitly mentioned in the text. My research was guided by the following questions:

  1. How do ocean biogeochemical cycles accommodate perturbations brought about by anthropogenic activities or natural forcings?
  2. What are the predictability horizons of variations in the ocean carbon sink?
  3. What is the potential of the ocean carbon sink, artificially enhanced by ocean alkalinity additions, to mitigate climate change?

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Limits and CO2 equilibration of near-coast alkalinity enhancement

Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) has recently gained attention as a potential method for negative emissions at gigatonne scale, with near-coast OAE operations being economically favorable due to proximity to mineral and energy sources. In this paper we study critical questions which determine the scale and viability of OAE: Which coastal locations are able to sustain a large flux of alkalinity at minimal pH and ΩArag (aragonite saturation) changes? What is the interference distance between adjacent OAE projects? How much CO2 is absorbed per unit of alkalinity added? How quickly does the induced CO2 deficiency equilibrate with the atmosphere?

Using the LLC270 (0.3deg) ECCO global circulation model we find that the steady-state OAE rate varies over 1–2 orders of magnitude between different coasts and exhibits complex patterns and non-local dependencies which vary from region to region. In general, OAE in areas of strong coastal currents allow the largest fluxes and depending on the direction of coastal currents, neighboring OAE sites can exhibit dependencies as far as 400 km or more. We found that within relatively conservative constraints set on ∆pH or ∆Omega, most regional stretches of coastline are able to accommodate on the order of tens to hundreds of megatonnes of negative emissions within 300 km of the coast. We conclude that near-coastal OAE has the potential to scale globally to several GtCO2/yr of drawdown with conservative pH constraints, if the effort is spread over the majority of available coastlines.

Depending on the location, we find a diverse set of equilibration kinetics, determined by the interplay of gas exchange and surface residence time. Most locations reach an uptake-efficiency plateau of 0.6–0.8mol CO2 per mol of alkalinity after 3–4 years, after which there is little further CO2 uptake. The most ideal locations, reaching an uptake of around 0.8 include north Madagascar, San Francisco, Brazil, Peru and locations close to the southern ocean such as Tasmania, Kerguelen and Patagonia, where the gas exchange appears to occur faster than the surface residence time. Some locations (e.g. Hawaii) take significantly longer to equilibrate (up to 8–10 years), though can still eventually achieve high uptake. If the alkalinity released advects into regions of significant downwelling (e.g. around Iceland) up to half of the OAE potential can be lost to bottom waters.

Continue reading ‘Limits and CO2 equilibration of near-coast alkalinity enhancement’

Data-based estimates of interannual sea–air CO2 flux variations 1957–2020 and their relation to environmental drivers (update)

This study considers year-to-year and decadal variations in as well as secular trends of the sea–air CO2 flux over the 1957–2020 period, as constrained by the pCO2 measurements from the SOCATv2021 database. In a first step, we relate interannual anomalies in ocean-internal carbon sources and sinks to local interannual anomalies in sea surface temperature (SST), the temporal changes in SST (dSST/dt), and squared wind speed (u2), employing a multi-linear regression. In the tropical Pacific, we find interannual variability to be dominated by dSST/dt, as arising from variations in the upwelling of colder and more carbon-rich waters into the mixed layer. In the eastern upwelling zones as well as in circumpolar bands in the high latitudes of both hemispheres, we find sensitivity to wind speed, compatible with the entrainment of carbon-rich water during wind-driven deepening of the mixed layer and wind-driven upwelling. In the Southern Ocean, the secular increase in wind speed leads to a secular increase in the carbon source into the mixed layer, with an estimated reduction in the sink trend in the range of 17 % to 42 %. In a second step, we combined the result of the multi-linear regression and an explicitly interannual pCO2-based additive correction into a “hybrid” estimate of the sea–air CO2 flux over the period 1957–2020. As a pCO2 mapping method, it combines (a) the ability of a regression to bridge data gaps and extrapolate into the early decades almost void of pCO2 data based on process-related observables and (b) the ability of an auto-regressive interpolation to follow signals even if not represented in the chosen set of explanatory variables. The “hybrid” estimate can be applied as an ocean flux prior for atmospheric CO2 inversions covering the whole period of atmospheric CO2 data since 1957.

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Enhanced silica export in a future ocean triggers global diatom decline

Diatoms account for up to 40% of marine primary production and require silicic acid to grow and build their opal shell3. On the physiological and ecological level, diatoms are thought to be resistant to, or even benefit from, ocean acidification. Yet, global-scale responses and implications for biogeochemical cycles in the future ocean remain largely unknown. Here we conducted five in situ mesocosm experiments with natural plankton communities in different biomes and find that ocean acidification increases the elemental ratio of silicon (Si) to nitrogen (N) of sinking biogenic matter by 17 ± 6 per cent under pCO2 conditions projected for the year 2100. This shift in Si:N seems to be caused by slower chemical dissolution of silica at decreasing seawater pH. We test this finding with global sediment trap data, which confirm a widespread influence of pH on Si:N in the oceanic water column. Earth system model simulations show that a future pH-driven decrease in silica dissolution of sinking material reduces the availability of silicic acid in the surface ocean, triggering a global decline of diatoms by 13–26 per cent due to ocean acidification by the year 2200. This outcome contrasts sharply with the conclusions of previous experimental studies, thereby illustrating how our current understanding of biological impacts of ocean change can be considerably altered at the global scale through unexpected feedback mechanisms in the Earth system.

Continue reading ‘Enhanced silica export in a future ocean triggers global diatom decline’

Understanding the seasonality, trends and controlling factors of Indian ocean acidification over distinctive bio-provinces

The Indian Ocean (IO) is witnessing acidification as a direct consequence of the continuous rising of atmospheric CO2 concentration and indirectly due to the rapid ocean warming, which disrupts the pH of the surface waters. This study investigates the pH seasonality and trends over various bio-provinces of the IO and regionally assesses the contribution of each of its controlling factors. Simulations from a global and a regional ocean model coupled with biogeochemical modules were validated with pH measurements over the basin, and used to discern the regional response of pH seasonality (1990-2010) and trend (1961-2010) in response to changes in Sea Surface Temperature (SST), Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC), Total Alkalinity (ALK) and Salinity (S). DIC and SST are significant contributors to the seasonal variability of pH in almost all bio-provinces. Total acidification in the IO basin was 0.0675 units from 1961 to 2010, with 69.3% contribution from DIC followed by 13.8% contribution from SST. For most of the bio-provinces, DIC remains a dominant contributor to changing trends in pH except for the Northern Bay of Bengal and Around India (NBoB-AI) region, wherein the pH trend is dominated by ALK (55.6%) and SST (16.8%). Interdependence of SST and S over ALK is significant in modifying the carbonate chemistry and biogeochemical dynamics of NBoB-AI and a part of tropical, subtropical IO bio-provinces. A strong correlation between SST and pH trends infers an increasing risk of acidification in the bio-provinces with rising SST and points out the need for sustained monitoring of IO pH in such hotspots.

Continue reading ‘Understanding the seasonality, trends and controlling factors of Indian ocean acidification over distinctive bio-provinces’

A seamless ensemble-based reconstruction of surface ocean pCO2 and air–sea CO2 fluxes over the global coastal and open oceans

We have estimated global air–sea CO2 fluxes (fgCO2) from the open ocean to coastal seas. Fluxes and associated uncertainty are computed from an ensemble-based reconstruction of CO2 sea surface partial pressure (pCO2) maps trained with gridded data from the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas v2020 database. The ensemble mean (which is the best estimate provided by the approach) fits independent data well, and a broad agreement between the spatial distribution of model–data differences and the ensemble standard deviation (which is our model uncertainty estimate) is seen. Ensemble-based uncertainty estimates are denoted by ±1σ. The space–time-varying uncertainty fields identify oceanic regions where improvements in data reconstruction and extensions of the observational network are needed. Poor reconstructions of pCO2 are primarily found over the coasts and/or in regions with sparse observations, while fgCO2 estimates with the largest uncertainty are observed over the open Southern Ocean (44 S southward), the subpolar regions, the Indian Ocean gyre, and upwelling systems.

Our estimate of the global net sink for the period 1985–2019 is 1.643±0.125 PgC yr−1 including 0.150±0.010 PgC yr−1 for the coastal net sink. Among the ocean basins, the Subtropical Pacific (18–49 N) and the Subpolar Atlantic (49–76 N) appear to be the strongest CO2 sinks for the open ocean and the coastal ocean, respectively. Based on mean flux density per unit area, the most intense CO2 drawdown is, however, observed over the Arctic (76 N poleward) followed by the Subpolar Atlantic and Subtropical Pacific for both open-ocean and coastal sectors. Reconstruction results also show significant changes in the global annual integral of all open- and coastal-ocean CO2 fluxes with a growth rate of  PgC yr−2 and a temporal standard deviation of 0.526±0.022 PgC yr−1 over the 35-year period. The link between the large interannual to multi-year variations of the global net sink and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation climate variability is reconfirmed.

Continue reading ‘A seamless ensemble-based reconstruction of surface ocean pCO2 and air–sea CO2 fluxes over the global coastal and open oceans’

Effects of solar radiation modification on the ocean carbon cycle: an earth system modeling study

Solar radiation modification (SRM, also termed as geoengineering) has been proposed as a potential option to counteract anthropogenic warming. The underlying idea of SRM is to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the atmosphere and surface, thus offsetting some amount of global warming. Here, the authors use an Earth system model to investigate the impact of SRM on the global carbon cycle and ocean biogeochemistry. The authors simulate the temporal evolution of global climate and the carbon cycle from the pre-industrial period to the end of this century under three scenarios: the RCP4.5 CO2 emission pathway, the RCP8.5 CO2 emission pathway, and the RCP8.5 CO2 emission pathway with the implementation of SRM to maintain the global mean surface temperature at the level of RCP4.5. The simulations show that SRM, by altering global climate, also affects the global carbon cycle. Compared to the RCP8.5 simulation without SRM, by the year 2100, SRM reduces atmospheric CO2 by 65 ppm mainly as a result of increased CO2 uptake by the terrestrial biosphere. However, SRM-induced change in atmospheric CO2 and climate has a small effect in mitigating ocean acidification. By the year 2100, relative to RCP8.5, SRM causes a decrease in surface ocean hydrogen ion concentration ([H+]) by 6% and attenuates the seasonal amplitude of [H+] by about 10%. The simulations also show that SRM has a small effect on globally integrated ocean net primary productivity relative to the high-CO2 simulation without SRM. This study contributes to a comprehensive assessment of the effects of SRM on both the physical climate and the global carbon cycle.

Continue reading ‘Effects of solar radiation modification on the ocean carbon cycle: an earth system modeling study’

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