Posts Tagged 'Mediterranean'

Experimental evidence of formation of transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) and POC export provoked by dust addition under current and high pCO2 conditions

The evolution of organic carbon export to the deep ocean, under anthropogenic forcing such as ocean warming and acidification, needs to be investigated in order to evaluate potential positive or negative feedbacks on atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and therefore on climate. As such, modifications of aggregation processes driven by transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) formation have the potential to affect carbon export. The objectives of this study were to experimentally assess the dynamics of organic matter, after the simulation of a Saharan dust deposition event, through the measurement over one week of TEP abundance and size, and to evaluate the effects of ocean acidification on TEP formation and carbon export following a dust deposition event. Three experiments were performed in the laboratory using 300 L tanks filled with filtered seawater collected in the Mediterranean Sea, during two ‘no bloom’ periods (spring at the start of the stratification period and autumn at the end of this stratification period) and during the winter bloom period. For each experiment, one of the two tanks was acidified to reach pH conditions slightly below values projected for 2100 (~ 7.6–7.8). In both tanks, a dust deposition event of 10 g m-2 was simulated at the surface. Our results suggest that Saharan dust deposition triggered the abiotic formation of TEP, leading to the formation of organic-mineral aggregates. The amount of particulate organic carbon (POC) exported was proportional to the flux of lithogenic particles to the sediment traps. Depending on the season, the POC flux following artificial dust deposition ranged between 38 and 90 mg m-2 over six experimental days. Such variability is likely linked to the seasonal differences in the quality and quantity of TEP-precursors initially present in seawater. Finally, these export fluxes were not significantly different at the completion of the three experiments between the two pH conditions.

Continue reading ‘Experimental evidence of formation of transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) and POC export provoked by dust addition under current and high pCO2 conditions’

Linking gene expression to productivity to unravel long- and short-term responses of seagrasses exposed to CO2 in volcanic vents

Ocean acidification is a major threat for marine life but seagrasses are expected to benefit from high CO2. In situ (long-term) and transplanted (short-term) plant incubations of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa were performed near and away the influence of volcanic CO2 vents at Vulcano Island to test the hypothesis of beneficial effects of CO2 on plant productivity. We relate, for the first time, the expression of photosynthetic, antioxidant and metal detoxification-related genes to net plant productivity (NPP). Results revealed a consistent pattern between gene expression and productivity indicating water origin as the main source of variability. However, the hypothesised beneficial effect of high CO2 around vents was not supported. We observed a consistent long- and short-term pattern of gene down-regulation and 2.5-fold NPP decrease in plants incubated in water from the vents and a generalized up-regulation and NPP increase in plants from the vent site incubated with water from the Reference site. Contrastingly, NPP of specimens experimentally exposed to a CO2 range significantly correlated with CO2 availability. The down-regulation of metal-related genes in C. nodosa leaves exposed to water from the venting site suggests that other factors than heavy metals, may be at play at Vulcano confounding the CO2 effects.

Continue reading ‘Linking gene expression to productivity to unravel long- and short-term responses of seagrasses exposed to CO2 in volcanic vents’

Adaptation policies and strategies as a response to ocean acidification and warming in the Mediterranean Sea

1. Introduction

The ocean are a fundamental component of the Earth’s climate regulation, life and its carbon cycle. By burning fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution, and thus emitting large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, humans are changing the ocean in several ways. In particular, the ocean is absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) at such an unprecedented rate that it is rapidly changing its chemistry, resulting in “ocean acidification”, a reduction in pH, carbonate ion concentration and the ocean’s buffering capacity. Ocean acidification is a global environmental issue posing a threat to open ocean and coastal marine ecosystems, including semi-enclosed seas such as the Mediterranean Sea. (…)

Continue reading ‘Adaptation policies and strategies as a response to ocean acidification and warming in the Mediterranean Sea’

Special edition of Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science – “Ocean acidification in the Mediterranean Sea: pelagic mesocosm experiments”

The topic of ocean acidification has received extensive attention in a recently published special edition of the journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Volume 186, Part A presents a series of 12 research papers focusing on pelagic mesocosm experiments conducted in the Mediterranean Sea in 2012 and 2013. Plankton plays a key role in the global carbon cycle. It is therefore important to project the evolution of plankton community structure and function in a future high-CO2 world. Several results from experiments conducted at the community level have shown increased rates of community primary production and shifts in community composition as a function of increasing pCO2. However, the great majority of these – experiments have been performed under high natural or nutrient-enriched conditions and very few data are available in areas with naturally low levels of nutrient and chlorophyll i.e. oligotrophic areas such as the Mediterranean Sea, although they represent a large and expanding part of the ocean surface. In the frame of the European Mediterranean Sea Acidification in a changing climate project (MedSeA; http://medsea-project.eu), large-scale in situ mesocosms (9 x 50 m3, 12 m deep) have been used to quantify the potential effects of CO2 enrichment in two coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea: the bay of Calvi (Corsica, France) in June/July 2012 and the bay of Villefranche (France) in February/March 2013. These two experiments gathered the expertise of more than 25 scientists from 7 institutes and 6 countries (France, Greece, Spain, UK, Italy, Belgium, US).

Continue reading ‘Special edition of Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science – “Ocean acidification in the Mediterranean Sea: pelagic mesocosm experiments”’

Molecular response of Sargassum vulgare to acidification at volcanic CO2 vents – insights from de novo transcriptomic analysis

Ocean acidification is an emerging problem that is expected to impact ocean species to varying degrees. Currently, little is known about its effect on molecular mechanisms induced in fleshy macroalgae. To elucidate genome wide responses to acidification, a comparative transcriptome analysis was carried out between Sargassum vulgare populations growing under acidified conditions at volcanic CO2 vents and a control site. Several transcripts involved in a wide range of cellular and metabolic processes were differentially expressed. No drastic changes were observed in the carbon acquisition processes and RuBisCO level. Moreover, relatively few stress genes, including those for antioxidant enzymes and heat shock proteins, were affected. Instead, increased expression of transcripts involved in energy metabolism, photosynthetic processes, and ion homeostasis suggested that algae increased energy production to maintain ion-homeostasis and other cellular processes. Also, an increased allocation of carbon to cell wall and carbon storage was observed. A number of genes encoding proteins involved in cellular signaling, information storage and processing, and transposition were differentially expressed between the two conditions. The transcriptional changes of key enzymes were largely confirmed by enzymatic activity measurements. Altogether, the changes induced by acidification indicate an adaptation of growth and development of S. vulgare at the volcanic CO2 vents, suggesting that this fleshy alga exhibits a high plasticity to low pH and can adopt molecular strategies to grow also in future more acidified waters.

Continue reading ‘Molecular response of Sargassum vulgare to acidification at volcanic CO2 vents – insights from de novo transcriptomic analysis’

Comparison of Mediterranean pteropod shell biometrics and ultrastructure from historical (1910 and 1921) and present day (2012) samples provides baseline for monitoring effects of global change

Anthropogenic carbon perturbation has caused decreases in seawater pH and increases in global temperatures since the start of the 20th century. The subsequent lowering of the saturation state of CaCO3 may make the secretion of skeletons more problematic for marine calcifiers. As organisms that precipitate thin aragonite shells, thecosome pteropods have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to climate change effects. Coupled with their global distribution, this makes them ideal for use as sentinel organisms. Recent studies have highlighted shell dissolution as a potential indicator of ocean acidification; however, this metric is not applicable for monitoring pH changes in supersaturated basins. In this study, the novel approach of high resolution computed tomography (CT) scanning was used to produce quantitative 3-dimensional renderings pteropod shells to assess the potential of using this method to monitor small changes in shell biometrics that may be driven by climate change drivers. An ontogenetic analysis of the shells of Cavolinia inflexa and Styliola subula collected from the Mediterranean was used to identify suitable monitoring metrics. Modern samples were then compared to historical samples of the same species, collected during the Mediterranean leg of the Thor (1910) and Dana (1921) cruises to assess whether any empirical differences could be detected. Shell densities were calculated and scanning electron microscopy was used to compare the aragonite crystal morphology. pH for the collection years was hind-cast using temperature and salinity time series with atmospheric CO2 concentrations from ice core data. Historical samples of S. subula were thicker than S. subula shells of the same size from 2012 and C. inflexa shells collected in 1910 were significantly denser than those from 2012. These results provide a baseline for future work to develop monitoring techniques for climate change in the oceans using the novel approach of high-resolution CT scanning.

Continue reading ‘Comparison of Mediterranean pteropod shell biometrics and ultrastructure from historical (1910 and 1921) and present day (2012) samples provides baseline for monitoring effects of global change’

Decoupled carbonate chemistry controls on the incorporation of boron into Orbulina universa (update)

In order to fully constrain paleo-carbonate systems, proxies for two out of seven parameters, plus temperature and salinity, are required. The boron isotopic composition (δ11B) of planktonic foraminifera shells is a powerful tool for reconstructing changes in past surface ocean pH. As B(OH)4− is substituted into the biogenic calcite lattice in place of CO32−, and both borate and carbonate ions are more abundant at higher pH, it was suggested early on that B ∕ Ca ratios in biogenic calcite may serve as a proxy for [CO32−]. Although several recent studies have shown that a direct connection of B ∕ Ca to carbonate system parameters may be masked by other environmental factors in the field, there is ample evidence for a mechanistic relationship between B ∕ Ca and carbonate system parameters. Here, we focus on investigating the primary relationship to develop a mechanistic understanding of boron uptake.

Differentiating between the effects of pH and [CO32−] is problematic, as they co-vary closely in natural systems, so the major control on boron incorporation remains unclear. To deconvolve the effects of pH and [CO32−] and to investigate their impact on the B ∕ Ca ratio and δ11B, we conducted culture experiments with the planktonic foraminifer Orbulina universa in manipulated culture media: constant pH (8.05), but changing [CO32−] (238, 286 and 534 µmol kg−1 CO32−) and at constant [CO32−] (276 ± 19.5 µmol kg−1) and varying pH (7.7, 7.9 and 8.05). Measurements of the isotopic composition of boron and the B ∕ Ca ratio were performed simultaneously using a femtosecond laser ablation system coupled to a MC-ICP-MS (multiple-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer). Our results show that, as expected, δ11B is controlled by pH but it is also modulated by [CO32−]. On the other hand, the B ∕ Ca ratio is driven by [HCO3−], independently of pH. This suggests that B ∕ Ca ratios in foraminiferal calcite can possibly be used as a second, independent, proxy for complete paleo-carbonate system reconstructions. This is discussed in light of recent literature demonstrating that the primary relationship between B ∕ Ca and [HCO3−] can be obscured by other environmental parameters.

Continue reading ‘Decoupled carbonate chemistry controls on the incorporation of boron into Orbulina universa (update)’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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