Posts Tagged 'methods'

A critical analysis of the ocean effects of carbon dioxide removal via direct air and ocean capture – is it a safe and sustainable solution?

Executive Summary

Catalyzed by the 2015 Paris Agreement, there are numerous initiatives for policies and sciencebased solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to achieve net-zero emissions internationally. President Biden plans to achieve net-zero in the United States no later than 2050. Despite forward-moving initiatives, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently reported that two-thirds of the countries that have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have committed to levels that remain insufficient in meeting vital international climate targets [1]. The overarching goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be accomplished by transitioning to a more equitable and environmentally just energy system that reduces pollution while meeting global food, transportation, and energy needs. Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is at the forefront of policy change, investments, and technology to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the ocean. We must respond quickly, yet carefully, to the considerable pressure to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere even as we transition away from burning fossil fuels and other anthropogenic CO2-emitting activities. There are a number of emerging technologies based on direct air capture (DAC) and direct ocean capture (DOC) which use machines to extract CO2 directly from the atmosphere or the ocean and move the CO2 underground to storage facilities or utilize the CO2 to enhance oil recovery from commercially-depleted wells. These technological interventions are in contrast to nature-based solutions. These include restoring mangroves and other coastal and marine ecosystems, regenerative agriculture, and reforestation to remove and store carbon dioxide in plants and soils. These nature-based strategies can offer multiple community benefits, biodiversity benefits, and long-term carbon storage, a global benefit.2 This report mainly focuses on the viability and consequences, including potential harm to the environment and livelihoods of the direct air capture and direct ocean capture approaches.

Continue reading ‘A critical analysis of the ocean effects of carbon dioxide removal via direct air and ocean capture – is it a safe and sustainable solution?’

Technical note: excess alkalinity in carbonate system reference materials

Certified reference materials (CRMs) for oceanic carbonate system measurements are critical for verifying the accuracy of laboratory protocols and the reliability of field sensors. CRMs are certified for total alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon, parameters that are (1) stable for a long period of time when a sample is properly stored and (2) not affected by changes in temperature and pressure. In experimentation initially designed to measure the total boron to salinity ratio of seawater, an interesting result has emerged regarding CRMs. A unique acidimetric titration method has indicated that three different batches of CRM contain excess alkalinity (i.e., alkalinity that is not attributable to inorganic bases included in the traditional definition of seawater total alkalinity) that is statistically greater than the excess alkalinity measured in open-ocean water from the Gulf of Mexico. Further, the amount of excess alkalinity appears to differ in certain CRM batches. Excess alkalinity in CRMs is likely caused by organic proton acceptors that are not completely oxidized by the ultraviolet sterilization procedure that CRMs undergo. The primary use of CRMs — to maintain the accuracy and consistency of carbonate system measurements — may be inhibited by excess alkalinity, which can cause differences in total alkalinity values determined by different titration methods. Excess alkalinity also invalidates the assumptions applied to CO2 system calculations, and so would produce incorrect values of CO2 system parameters calculated from certified total alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon values of CRMs. Finally, excess alkalinity analyses highlight the urgent need for the marine chemistry community to establish a universally agreed upon total boron to salinity ratio.

Continue reading ‘Technical note: excess alkalinity in carbonate system reference materials’

Seasonal marine carbon system processes in an Arctic coastal landfast sea ice environment observed with an innovative underwater sensor platform

Studying carbon dioxide in the ocean helps to understand how the ocean will be impacted by climate change and respond to increasing fossil fuel emissions. The marine carbonate system is not well characterized in the Arctic, where challenging logistics and extreme conditions limit observations of atmospheric CO2 flux and ocean acidification. Here, we present a high-resolution marine carbon system data set covering the complete cycle of sea-ice growth and melt in an Arctic estuary (Nunavut, Canada). This data set was collected through three consecutive yearlong deployments of sensors for pH and partial pressure of CO2 in seawater (pCO2sw) on a cabled underwater observatory. The sensors were remarkably stable compared to discrete samples: While corrections for offsets were required in some instances, we did not observe significant drift over the deployment periods. Our observations revealed a strong seasonality in this marine carbon system. Prior to sea-ice formation, air–sea gas exchange and respiration were the dominant processes, leading to increasing pCO2sw and reduced aragonite saturation state (ΩAr). During sea-ice growth, water column respiration and brine rejection (possibly enriched in dissolved inorganic carbon, relative to alkalinity, due to ikaite precipitation in sea ice) drove pCO2sw to supersaturation and lowered ΩAr to < 1. Shortly after polar sunrise, the ecosystem became net autotrophic, returning pCO2sw to undersaturation. The biological community responsible for this early switch to autotrophy (well before ice algae or phytoplankton blooms) requires further investigation. After sea-ice melt initiated, an under-ice phytoplankton bloom strongly reduced aqueous carbon (chlorophyll-a max of 2.4 µg L–1), returning ΩAr to > 1 after 4.5 months of undersaturation. Based on simple extrapolations of anthropogenic carbon inventories, we suspect that this seasonal undersaturation would not have occurred naturally. At ice breakup, the sensor platform recorded low pCO2sw (230 µatm), suggesting a strong CO2 sink during the open water season.

Continue reading ‘Seasonal marine carbon system processes in an Arctic coastal landfast sea ice environment observed with an innovative underwater sensor platform’

Change of coral carbon isotopic response to anthropogenic Suess effect since around 2000s

Highlights

  • The declining trend in the coral δ13C time series slowed or reversed after 2000.
  • The change of the declining rate in coral δ13C is not due to seawater chemistry.
  • The response of coral δ13C to Suess effect has changed since around 2000s.
  • The change results from coral acclimatization to external environmental stressors.

Abstract

The stable carbon isotope composition (δ13C) in coral skeletons can be used to reconstruct the evolution of the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in surface seawater, and its long-term declining trend during the past 200 years (∼1800-2000) reflects the effect of anthropogenic Suess effect on carbonate chemistry in surface oceans. The global atmospheric CO2 concentration still has been increasing since 2000, and the Suess effect is intensifying. Considering the coral’s ability of resilience and acclimatization to external environmental stressors, the response of coral δ13C to Suess effect may change and needs to be re-evaluated. In this study, ten long coral δ13C time series synthesized from different oceans were used to re-evaluate the response of coral carbonate chemistry to Suess effect under the changing environments. These δ13C time series showed a long-term declining trend since 1960s, but the declining rates slowed in eight time series since around 2000s. Considering that the declining rates of the DIC-δ13C in surface seawater from the Hawaii Ocean Time-series Station and Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Station has not changed since 2000 compared with those during 1960-1999, the change in the coral δ13C trends at eight of ten locations may indicate that the response of coral δ13C to the anthropogenic Suess effect has changed since around 2000s. This change may have resulted from coral acclimatization to external environmental stressors. To adapt to acidifying oceans, coral may have the ability to regulate the source of DIC in extracellular calcifying fluid and/or the utilization way of DIC, therefore the response of coral δ13C to anthropogenic Suess effect will change accordingly.

Continue reading ‘Change of coral carbon isotopic response to anthropogenic Suess effect since around 2000s’

On calcium-to-alkalinity anomalies in the North Pacific, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean

An important factor for predicting the effect of increased CO2 on future acidification of the ocean is a proper understanding of the interactions controlling production and dissolution of calcium carbonate minerals (CaCO3). The production and dissolution of CaCO3 in the ocean can be assessed over large spatial scales by measuring seawater calcium concentrations and total alkalinity (AT), yet past studies suggest that there could be large discrepancies between calcium and AT-based balances of the CaCO3 cycle in the North Pacific and Indian Oceans. Here, we analyse water column samples collected along transects in the North Pacific, Southern Ocean, tropical Indian Ocean and Red Sea for their concentrations of calcium, nutrients, and AT. We find that there is an excess calcium over AT anomaly in the top 1000 m of the tropical Indian Ocean water-column. The source of this anomaly is the dissolution of subsurface gypsum deposits in the Red Sea. We find no evidence for calcium-over-AT anomalies in the North Pacific, in contrast to previous studies. Our results show that, in most cases, calcium and AT data agree well and can be used to reconstruct the marine CaCO3 cycle.

Continue reading ‘On calcium-to-alkalinity anomalies in the North Pacific, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean’

Ideas and perspectives: when ocean acidification experiments are not the same, repeatability is not tested (update)

Can experimental studies on the behavioural impacts of ocean acidification be trusted? That question was raised in early 2020 when a high-profile paper failed to corroborate previously observed responses of coral reef fish to high CO2. New information on the methodologies used in the “replicated” studies now provides a plausible explanation: the experimental conditions were substantially different. High sensitivity to test conditions is characteristic of ocean acidification research; such response variability shows that effects are complex, interacting with many other factors. Open-minded assessment of all research results, both negative and positive, remains the best way to develop process-based understanding. As in other fields, replication studies in ocean acidification are most likely to contribute to scientific advancement when carried out in a spirit of collaboration rather than confrontation.

Continue reading ‘Ideas and perspectives: when ocean acidification experiments are not the same, repeatability is not tested (update)’

Variability of USA East Coast surface total alkalinity distributions revealed by automated instrument measurements

Highlights

• Automated total alkalinity (TA) analyses greatly expanded spatiotemporal coverage

• Regional distributions of TA relative to salinity changed between seasons and years

• Seasonal changes were sometimes inconsistent with a new historical dataset

Abstract

Seawater total alkalinity (TA) is one important determinant used to monitor the ocean carbon cycle, whose spatial distributions have previously been characterized along the United States East Coast via discrete bottle samples. Using these data, several regional models for TA retrievals based on practical salinity (S) have been developed. Broad-scale seasonal or interannual variations, however, are not well resolved in these models and existing data are highly seasonally biased. This study reports findings from the first long duration deployment of a new, commercially available TA titrator aboard a research vessel and the continuous underway surface TA measurements produced. The instrument, operated on seven East Coast USA cruises during six months in 2017 and for two months in 2018 on the summertime East Coast Ocean Acidification survey (ECOA-2), collected a total of nearly 11,000 surface TA measurements. Data from these efforts, along with a newly synthesized set of more than 11,000 regional surface TA observations, are analyzed to re-examine distributions of TA and S along the United States East Coast. Overall, regional distributions of S and TA generally agreed with prior findings, but linear TA:S regressions varied markedly over time and deviated from previously developed models. This variability is likely due to a combination of biological, seasonal, and episodic influences and indicates that substantial errors of ±10–20 μmol kg−1 in TA estimation from S can be expected due to these factors. This finding has likely implications for numerical ecosystem modeling and inorganic carbon system calculations. New results presented in this paper provide refined surface TA:S relationships, present more data in space and time, and improve TA modeling uncertainty.

Continue reading ‘Variability of USA East Coast surface total alkalinity distributions revealed by automated instrument measurements’

A portable tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy system for dissolved CO2 detection using a high-efficiency headspace equilibrator

Continuous observation of aquatic pCO2  at the ocean surface, with a sensitive response time and high spatiotemporal resolution, is essential for research into the carbon biogeochemical cycle. In this work, a portable tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) system for dissolved CO2 detection in surface seawater, coupled with a home-made headspace equilibrator, allowing real time underway measurements, is described. Both the optical detection part and sample extraction part were integrated together into a compact chamber. An empirical equation suitable for this system was acquired, which can convert the concentration from the gas-phase to the aqueous-phase. A monitoring precision of 0.5% was obtained with time-series measurement, and the detection limits of 2.3 ppmv and 0.1 ppmv were determined with 1 s and 128 s averaging time, respectively. Sampling device used in this work was ameliorated so that the response time of system reduced by about 50% compared to the traditional ‘shower head’ system. The fast response time reached the order of 41 s when the final concentration span was 3079 ppmv. For1902 ppmv, this figure was as short as 20 s. Finally, a field underway measurement campaign was carried out and the results were briefly analyzed. Our work proved the feasibility of the TDLAS system for dissolved CO2 rapid detection.

Continue reading ‘A portable tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy system for dissolved CO2 detection using a high-efficiency headspace equilibrator’

Technical note: interpreting pH changes

The number and quality of ocean pH measurements have increased substantially over the past few decades such that trends, variability, and spatial patterns of change are now being evaluated. However, comparing pH changes across domains with different initial pH values can be misleading because a pH change reflects a relative change in the hydrogen ion concentration ([H+], expressed in mol kg−1) rather than an absolute change in [H+]. We recommend that [H+] be used in addition to pH when describing such changes and provide three examples illustrating why.

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Evaluation of actin as a reference for quantitative gene expression studies in Emiliania huxleyi (Prymnesiophyceae) under ocean acidification conditions

Gene expression studies of marine phytoplankton under ocean acidification conditions are frequently based on relative measurements, with actin commonly used as a reference gene. Evidence from other organisms suggests that actin gene expression may be regulated by environmental conditions, compromising the role of actin as a reference gene. In this work the reliability of actin as a reference gene for ocean acidification experimental conditions (high CO2 vs low CO2) in two different metabolic states (acclimated metabolism vs perturbed metabolism) for the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi was tested. The transcriptional response of the actin (act) is compared with the expression of specific target genes associated with inorganic carbon uptake (α-carbonic anhydrase: αca1) and assimilation (RuBisCO: rbcL), which was regulated under the experimental conditions. Our results showed act expression instability in experimental conditions, evidencing that act is not a reliable reference gene for studies assessing the effect of ocean acidification on Emiliania huxleyi. Furthermore, when the act-based normalization was quantitatively tested, rbcL and αca1 expression were compromised, leading us to conclude that absolute gene expression quantification should be considered as a potentially reliable alternative for studying gene expression under ocean acidification conditions

Continue reading ‘Evaluation of actin as a reference for quantitative gene expression studies in Emiliania huxleyi (Prymnesiophyceae) under ocean acidification conditions’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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