Posts Tagged 'globalmodeling'

Drivers of future seasonal cycle changes in oceanic pCO2

Recent observation-based results show that the seasonal amplitude of surface ocean partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) has been increasing on average at a rate of 2–3µatm per decade (Landschützer et al. 2018). Future increases in pCO2 seasonality are expected, as marine CO2 concentration ([CO2]) will increase in response to increasing anthropogenic carbon emissions (McNeil and Sasse 2016). Here we use seven different global coupled atmosphere–ocean–carbon cycle–ecosystem model simulations conducted as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) to study future projections of the pCO2 annual cycle amplitude and to elucidate the causes of its amplification. We find that for the RCP8.5 emission scenario the seasonal amplitude (climatological maximum minus minimum) of upper ocean pCO2 will increase by a factor of 1.5 to 3 over the next 60–80 years. To understand the drivers and mechanisms that control the pCO2 seasonal amplification we develop a complete analytical Taylor expansion of pCO2 seasonality in terms of its four drivers: dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (TA), temperature (T), and salinity (S). Using this linear approximation we show that the DIC and T terms are the dominant contributors to the total change in pCO2 seasonality. To first order, their future intensification can be traced back to a doubling of the annual mean pCO2, which enhances DIC and alters the ocean carbonate chemistry. Regional differences in the projected seasonal cycle amplitude are generated by spatially varying sensitivity terms. The subtropical and equatorial regions (40°S–40°N) will experience a  ≈ 30–80µatm increase in seasonal cycle amplitude almost exclusively due to a larger background CO2 concentration that amplifies the T seasonal effect on solubility. This mechanism is further reinforced by an overall increase in the seasonal cycle of T as a result of stronger ocean stratification and a projected shoaling of mean mixed layer depths. The Southern Ocean will experience a seasonal cycle amplification of  ≈ 90–120µatm in response to the mean pCO2-driven change in the mean DIC contribution and to a lesser extent to the T contribution. However, a decrease in the DIC seasonal cycle amplitude somewhat counteracts this regional amplification mechanism.

Continue reading ‘Drivers of future seasonal cycle changes in oceanic pCO2’

Lower Triassic deep sea carbonate precipitates from South Tibet, China

Sea-floor carbonate precipitates (SCPs), commonly seen in pre-Cambrian strata, were widely developed during the Permian–Triassic mass extinction and the Early Triassic recovery interval. Most SCPs are found in shallow water facies, with few SCPs reported from deep sea settings. Here, we document Lower Triassic deep sea SCPs from turbidite deposits exposed at the Xiukang section, South Tibet, China. The SCPs only occur within thin-bedded, silty limestones that are embedded in dark grey shale. Parallel–aligned mud cobbles, rounded micritic intraclasts and micro-erosional surfaces are commonly seen in these planar laminated limestones that contain abundant radiolarians and thin-shelled bivalves, indicating deposition in a deep basin via turbidity currents. The deep sea SCPs, which are comprised of bladed calcite crystals, display a weak vertical δ13C variation with the overlying matrix, and a uniform element distribution and consequently have a homogenous cathodoluminescence pattern, suggesting rapid precipitation in the open ocean, followed by a quick burial, which led to minimal diagenetic effects on the SCPs. We propose a new hypothesis that rapid carbonate precipitation resulted from mixing, driven by the turbidity current that introduced shallow seawater to the deep seawaters with a high alkalinity. Based on this model, the turbidity currents during the Early Triassic might serve as a potential role in the connection between the oxic surface oceans and the euxinic, deep oceans.

Continue reading ‘Lower Triassic deep sea carbonate precipitates from South Tibet, China’

Reverse weathering as a long-term stabilizer of marine pH and planetary climate

For the first four billion years of Earth’s history, climate was marked by apparent stability and warmth despite the Sun having lower luminosity1. Proposed mechanisms for maintaining an elevated partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere pCO2 centre on a reduction in the weatherability of Earth’s crust and therefore in the efficiency of carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere2. However, the effectiveness of these mechanisms remains debated2,3. Here we use a global carbon cycle model to explore the evolution of processes that govern marine pH, a factor that regulates the partitioning of carbon between the ocean and the atmosphere. We find that elevated rates of ‘reverse weathering’—that is, the consumption of alkalinity and generation of acidity during marine authigenic clay formation4,5,6,7—enhanced the retention of carbon within the ocean–atmosphere system, leading to an elevated pCO2 baseline. Although this process is dampened by sluggish kinetics today, we propose that more prolific rates of reverse weathering would have persisted under the pervasively silica-rich conditions8,9 that dominated Earth’s early oceans. This distinct ocean and coupled carbon–silicon cycle state would have successfully maintained the equable and ice-free environment that characterized most of the Precambrian period. Further, we propose that during this time, the establishment of a strong negative feedback between marine pH and authigenic clay formation would have also enhanced climate stability by mitigating large swings in pCO2—a critical component of Earth’s natural thermostat that would have been dominant for most of Earth’s history. We speculate that the late ecological rise of siliceous organisms8 and a resulting decline in silica-rich conditions dampened the reverse weathering buffer, destabilizing Earth’s climate system and lowering baseline pCO2.

Continue reading ‘Reverse weathering as a long-term stabilizer of marine pH and planetary climate’

The location and protection status of earth’s diminishing marine wilderness


  • We classify 13.2% (∼55 million km2) of the world’s ocean as marine wilderness
  • Little wilderness remains in coastal areas (e.g., coral reefs)
  • Only 4.9% of marine wilderness is currently within marine protected areas
  • Targets to retain marine wilderness are needed in global conservation strategies


As human activities increasingly threaten biodiversity areas devoid of intense human impacts are vital refugia. These wilderness areas contain high genetic diversity, unique functional traits, and endemic species; maintain high levels of ecological and evolutionary connectivity; and may be well placed to resist and recover from the impacts of climate change. On land, rapid declines in wilderness.  Here we systematically map marine wilderness globally by identifying areas that have both very little impact (lowest 10%) from 15 anthropogenic stressors and also a very low combined cumulative impact from these stressors. We discover that ∼13% of the ocean meets this definition of global wilderness, with most being located in the high seas. Recognizing that human influence differs across ocean regions, we repeat the analysis within each of the 16 ocean realms Realm-specific wilderness extent varies considerably, with >16 million km2 (8.6%) in the Warm Indo-Pacific, down to <2,000 km2 (0.5%) in Temperate Southern Africa. We also show that the marine protected area estate holds only 4.9% of global wilderness and 4.1% of realm-specific wilderness, very little of which is in biodiverse ecosystems such as coral reefs. Proactive retention of marine wilderness should now be incorporated into global strategies aimed at conserving biodiversity and ensuring that large-scale ecological and evolutionary processes continue.

Continue reading ‘The location and protection status of earth’s diminishing marine wilderness’

Future ecosystem changes in the Northeast Atlantic: a comparison between a global and a regional model system

The biogeochemistry from a global climate model (Norwegian Earth System Model) has been compared with results from a regional model (NORWECOM.E2E), where the regional model is forced by downscaled physics from the global model. The study should both be regarded as a direct comparison between a regional and its driving global model to investigate at what extent a global climate model can be used for regional studies, and a study of the future climate change in the Nordic and Barents Seas. The study concludes that the global and regional model compare well on trends, but many details are lost when a coarse resolution global model is used to assess climate impact on regional scale. The main difference between the two models is the timing of the spring bloom, and a non-exhaustive nutrient consumption in the global model in summer. The global model has a cold (in summer) and saline bias compared with climatology. This is both due to poorly resolved physical processes and oversimplified ecosystem parameterization. Through the downscaling the regional model is to some extent able to alleviate the bias in the physical fields, and the timing of the spring bloom is close to observations. The summer nutrient minimum is one month early. There is no trend in future primary production in any of the models, and the trends in modelled pH and ΩAr are also the same in both models. The largest discrepancy in the future projection is in the development of the CO2 uptake, where the regional suggests a slightly reduced uptake in the future.

Continue reading ‘Future ecosystem changes in the Northeast Atlantic: a comparison between a global and a regional model system’

Stabilization of global temperature at 1.5°C and 2.0°C: implications for coastal areas

The effectiveness of stringent climate stabilization scenarios for coastal areas in terms of reduction of impacts/adaptation needs and wider policy implications has received little attention. Here we use the Warming Acidification and Sea Level Projector Earth systems model to calculate large ensembles of global sea-level rise (SLR) and ocean pH projections to 2300 for 1.5°C and 2.0°C stabilization scenarios, and a reference unmitigated RCP8.5 scenario. The potential consequences of these projections are then considered for global coastal flooding, small islands, deltas, coastal cities and coastal ecology. Under both stabilization scenarios, global mean ocean pH (and temperature) stabilize within a century. This implies significant ecosystem impacts are avoided, but detailed quantification is lacking, reflecting scientific uncertainty. By contrast, SLR is only slowed and continues to 2300 (and beyond). Hence, while coastal impacts due to SLR are reduced significantly by climate stabilization, especially after 2100, potential impacts continue to grow for centuries. SLR in 2300 under both stabilization scenarios exceeds unmitigated SLR in 2100. Therefore, adaptation remains essential in densely populated and economically important coastal areas under climate stabilization. Given the multiple adaptation steps that this will require, an adaptation pathways approach has merits for coastal areas.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘The Paris Agreement: understanding the physical and social challenges for a warming world of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels’.

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Impacts of shifts in phytoplankton community on clouds and climate via the sulfur cycle

Dimethyl sulfide (DMS), primarily produced by marine organisms, contributes significantly to sulfate aerosol loading over the ocean after being oxidized in the atmosphere. In addition to exerting a direct radiative effect, the resulting aerosol particles act as cloud condensation nuclei, modulating cloud properties and extent, with impacts on atmospheric radiative transfer and climate. Thus, changes in pelagic ecosystems, such as phytoplankton physiology and community structure, may influence organosulfur production, and subsequently affect climate via the sulfur cycle. A fully coupled Earth system model, including explicit marine ecosystems and the sulfur cycle, is used here to investigate the impacts of changes associated with individual phytoplankton groups on DMS emissions and climate. Simulations show that changes in phytoplankton community structure, DMS production efficiency, and interactions of multielement biogeochemical cycles can all lead to significant differences in DMS transfer to the atmosphere. Subsequent changes in sulfate aerosol burden, cloud condensation nuclei number, and radiative effect are examined. We find the global annual mean cloud radiative effect shifts up to 0.21 W/m2, and the mean surface temperature increases up to 0.1 °C due to DMS production changes associated with individual phytoplankton group in simulations with radiative effects at the 2,100 levels under an 8.5 scenario. However, changes in DMS emissions, radiative effect, and surface temperature are more intensive on regional scales. Hence, we speculate that major uncertainties associated with future marine sulfur cycling will involve strong region‐to‐region climate shifts. Further understanding of marine ecosystems and the relevant phytoplankton‐aerosol‐climate linkage are needed for improving climate projections.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of shifts in phytoplankton community on clouds and climate via the sulfur cycle’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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