The invasion of anthropogenic carbon into the global ocean poses an existential threat to calcifying marine organisms1–4. Observations indicate that conditions corrosive to aragonite shells, unprecedented in the surface ocean, are already occurring in mesoscale upwelling features of the North Pacific2,5,6 and Southern Ocean7, and modeling experiments indicate that large volumes of the global ocean8 including the polar ocean’s surface might become corrosive to aragonite by 20304,9–13. Such changes are expected to compress important marine habitats, but the pathways by which habitat compression manifests over global scales, and their sensitivity to mitigation, remain unexplored. Using a suite of large ensemble projections from an Earth system model14,15, we assess the effectiveness of climate mitigation for averting habitat loss at the ecologically-critical horizon of the base of the ocean’s euphotic zone. We find that without mitigation, 40-42% of this sensitive horizon experiences conditions corrosive to aragonite by 2100, with moderate mitigation this reduces to 16-19%, and with aggressive mitigation to 6-7%. Mitigation has a stronger effect on the eastern relative to western domains of the northern extratropical ocean with some of the greatest benefits in the ocean’s most productive Large Marine Ecosystems, including the California Current and Gulf of Alaska. This work reveals the significant impact that mitigation efforts compatible with the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C could have upon preserving marine habitats that are vulnerable to ocean acidification.
After almost three decades, too little progress has been achieved in protecting, preserving, and promoting the sustainable use of the ocean and its resources for the benefit of mankind. Many efforts, however, have been deployed within conferences, summits, and meetings with highly competent experts, such as scientists, diplomats, and international lawyers covering a wide range of fields. After all these years, the state of the marine environment is not improving as fast as it should be. The question to ask is why has so little progress been achieved? The answer belongs once more to the international community, as well as to national policymakers. They should take more forceful actions in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contained in the 2030 Agenda.
Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) simultaneously mitigates atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and ocean acidification; however, no previous studies have investigated the response of the non-linear marine carbonate system sensitivity to alkalinity enhancement on regional scales. We hypothesise that regional implementations of OAE can sequester more atmospheric CO2 than a global implementation. To address this, we investigate physical regimes and alkalinity sensitivity as drivers of the carbon-uptake potential response to global and different regional simulations of OAE. In this idealised ocean-only set-up, total alkalinity is enhanced at a rate of 0.25 Pmol a-1 in 75-year simulations using the Max Planck Institute Ocean Model coupled to the HAMburg Ocean Carbon Cycle model with pre-industrial atmospheric forcing. Alkalinity is enhanced globally and in eight regions: the Subpolar and Subtropical Atlantic and Pacific gyres, the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean. This study reveals that regional alkalinity enhancement has the capacity to exceed carbon uptake by global OAE. We find that 82–175 Pg more carbon is sequestered into the ocean when alkalinity is enhanced regionally and 156 PgC when enhanced globally, compared with the background-state. The Southern Ocean application is most efficient, sequestering 12% more carbon than the Global experiment despite OAE being applied across a surface area 40 times smaller. For the first time, we find that different carbon-uptake potentials are driven by the surface pattern of total alkalinity redistributed by physical regimes across areas of different carbon-uptake efficiencies. We also show that, while the marine carbonate system becomes less sensitive to alkalinity enhancement in all experiments globally, regional responses to enhanced alkalinity vary depending upon the background concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity. Furthermore, the Subpolar North Atlantic displays a previously unexpected alkalinity sensitivity increase in response to high total alkalinity concentrations.
Estuarine sediments make an important contribution to the global carbon cycle, but we do not know how this will change under a future climate, which is expected to have lower pH oceans and frequent high-temperature days. Six combinations of warming and partial pressures of CO2 (pCO2) were chosen to investigate the combined and individual effects of short-term pressures on the diel metabolic response of shallow unvegetated sediments ex-situ. Whereas warming significantly increased respiration, making sediments more heterotrophic, high-pCO2 increased net primary productivity, resulting in less heterotrophic sediments. As a result, warming decreased the carbon burial potential of estuarine sediments and high-pCO2 had the opposite effect. High-pCO2 mitigates the negative effects of warming on benthic metabolism under the combined scenario, with carbon burial similar to that expected under high-pCO2 conditions alone. Climate scenarios also changed the diurnal pCO2 variation, with ranges increasing by 33% with warming, and almost doubling under high-pCO2 conditions. An additive response in pCO2 variability was observed under the combined scenario, increasing to 2.3× the current diel-pCO2 range, highlighting the reduced buffering capacity of the water associated with a high CO2 climate. Future carbon burial and export under increased frequencies of unseasonably warm days projected for mid and end of century (30% and 50% of days-per-year, respectively) were estimated with and without ocean acidification. By 2100, warming alone could decrease annual estuarine sediment burial potential by 25%. However, ocean acidification could mitigate the negative effects of more frequent high-temperature days and increase carbon burial potential over current conditions by ~18%.
Studying the local impacts of natural marine discharges can help in understanding the local impacts of large-scale restoration programs. This paper reviews studies of naturally occurring CO2 rich hydrothermal vents to understand how nature responds. Venting CO2 raises both total DIC, and the CO2 partial pressure by a factor of 10 or 20 times, lowering the pH and the saturation state of calcium carbonate, impeding calcification by calcifying organisms.
The ocean is a relatively stable environment and significant changes to water chemistry caused by high levels of CO2 input impacts marine organisms. Many algae are able to survive and photosynthesise at low pH levels, and some may actually benefit from an increase in dissolved CO2. However, coralline and calcareous algae that form carbonate skeletons are negatively impacted at low pH. Ecologically and economically valuable marine flora such as kelp, seagrass and certain seaweeds can benefit from increased DIC, exhibiting increases in photosynthetic and growth rates. Kelp and seagrass may also increase local pH levels, creating refuges for calcifying marine species.
The calcification rates of Many marine invertebrates decrease with increasing pCO2. At sites closer to vent openings, with lower pH, the abundance and diversity of invertebrates is significantly reduced. This can impact species valuable to the fishery and aquaculture industry by directly affecting recruitment, growth and survivorship of species such as mussels and oysters and indirectly through reduced abundance of invertebrate prey for herring and mackerel. Corals are also negatively impacted by declining pH and calcium carbonate saturation, yet not all hard corals respond evenly. More resilient genera such as Porites can survive pH drops to approximately 7.8, however below this value reef development is virtually absent and the habitat is dominated by algae and soft corals.
Naturally occurring low pH sites are relatively common in the marine environment and though they clearly alter species composition and abundance, the locally lower pH does not kill marine life, and beyond dispersion zones species are unaffected. Global ocean acidification is a serious problem, however the impacts of local releases of CO2 are relatively limited, resulting in community shifts towards low pH tolerant species. Reversal of global ocean acidification is essential, and restoration of the oceans will require huge carbon dioxide removal (CDR) processes.
Under predicted future ocean conditions, reefs exposed to elevated nutrients will simultaneously experience ocean acidification and elevated temperature. We evaluated if moderate nutrients mitigate, minimize, or exacerbate negative effects of predicted future ocean conditions on coral physiology. For 30 days, Acropora millepora and Turbinaria reniformis were exposed to a fully factorial experiment of eight treatments including two seawater temperatures (26.4 °C and 29.8 °C), pCO2 levels (401 μatm pCO2 and 760 μatm pCO2), and nutrient concentrations (ambient: 0.40 μmol L−1 NO3− and 0.22 μmol L−1 PO43−, and moderate: 3.56 μmol L−1 NO3− and 0.31 μmol L−1 PO43−). Added nitrate was taken up by the algal endosymbionts and transferred to the coral hosts in both species, though to a much higher degree in A. millepora. When exposed to elevated temperature, elevated pCO2, or both, effects observed for chlorophyll a, calcification, biomass, and energy reserves were not compounded by the moderate nutrient concentrations in either species. Moderate nutrients enabled A. millepora to continue to meet daily metabolic demand via photosynthesis under predicted future ocean conditions and T. reniformis to greatly exceed daily metabolic demand via photosynthesis and heterotrophy. Our results suggest that balanced moderate nutrients are not detrimental to corals under predicted future ocean conditions and may even provide some benefits.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a globally significant coral reef system supporting productive and diverse ecosystems. The GBR is under increasing threat from climate change and local anthropogenic stressors, with its general condition degrading over recent decades. In response to this, a number of techniques have been proposed to offset or ameliorate environmental changes. In this study, we use a coupled hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model of the GBR and surrounding ocean to simulate artificial ocean alkalinisation (AOA) as a means to reverse the impact of global ocean acidification on GBR reefs. Our results demonstrate that a continuous release of 90 000 t of alkalinity every 3 d over one year along the entire length of the GBR, following the Gladstone-Weipa bulk carrier route, increases the mean aragonite saturation state (Ωar) across the GBR’s 3860 reefs by 0.05. This change offsets just over 4 years (∼4.2) of ocean acidification under the present rate of anthropogenic carbon emissions. The injection raises Ωar in the 250 reefs closest to the route by ⩾0.15, reversing further projected Ocean Acidification. Following cessation of alkalinity injection Ωar returns to the value of the waters in the absence of AOA over a 6 month period, primarily due to transport of additional alkalinity into the Coral Sea. Significantly, our study provides for the first time a model of AOA applied along existing shipping infrastructure that has been used to investigate shelf scale impacts. Thus, amelioration of decades of OA on the GBR is feasible using existing infrastructure, but is likely to be extremely expensive, include as yet unquantified risks, and would need to be undertaken continuously until such time, probably centuries in the future, when atmospheric CO2 concentrations have returned to today’s values.
As global change continues to progress, there is a growing interest in assessing any local levers that could be used to manage the social and ecological impacts of rising CO2 concentrations. While habitat conservation and restoration have been widely recognized for their role in carbon storage and sequestration at a global scale, the potential for managers to use vegetated habitats to mitigate CO2 concentrations at local scales in marine ecosystems facing the accelerating threat of ocean acidification (OA) has only recently garnered attention. Early studies have shown that submerged aquatic vegetation, such as seagrass beds, can locally draw down CO2 and raise seawater pH in the water column through photosynthesis, but empirical studies of local OA mitigation are still quite limited. Here, we leverage the extensive body of literature on seagrass community metabolism to highlight key considerations for local OA management through seagrass conservation or restoration. In particular, we synthesize the results from 62 studies reporting in situ rates of seagrass gross primary productivity, respiration, and/or net community productivity to highlight spatial and temporal variability in carbon fluxes. We illustrate that daytime net community production is positive overall, and similar across seasons and geographies. Full-day net community production rates, which illustrate the potential cumulative effect of seagrass beds on seawater biogeochemistry integrated over day and night, were also positive overall, but were higher in summer months in both tropical and temperate ecosystems. Although our analyses suggest seagrass meadows are generally autotrophic, the modeled effects on seawater pH are relatively small in magnitude. In addition, we illustrate that periods when full-day net community production is highest could be associated with lower nighttime pH and increased diurnal variability in seawater pCO2/pH. Finally, we highlight important areas for future research to inform the next steps for assessing the utility of this approach for management.
Mangrove–coral habitat is characterized by heterogeneity in the physical environment that allows it to be out of equilibrium with open ocean conditions, resulting in differentiation of local physical, chemical, and biological attributes. This chapter highlights how some mangrove habitats can act as alternate refuges for corals during climate threats, particularly increasing seawater temperature, high levels of solar radiation, and ocean acidification. Coastal ecosystems are interconnected and so any change in one coastal ecosystem will have an impact on other ecosystems. Similarly, recovery and resilience of coastal ecosystems like coral reefs depend on the degree of connectivity and support from the neighboring coastal ecosystems such as seagrass beds. Therefore, healthy seagrass beds are especially vital for the resilience of coral reefs, as they support the coral communities to adapt to climate change impacts. Corals compete with seaweeds for space on the reef. When corals are healthy, the coral–seaweed competition reaches a balance. But, if the corals are not able to do well because of smothering like eutrophication or climate change induced impacts, then seaweeds can take over. Our study results suggest that coral reefs may become increasingly susceptible to seaweed proliferation under ocean acidification. Though the functional links of mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs have been studied, their conservation and management aspects due to connectivity and their importance for humans is yet to be understood. Importance of interconnectivity in biodiversity richness is illustrated by presenting the bioresource availability in the existing heterogeneous coral reef, seagrass, and mangrove habitats of the Neil Island, the Andamans and studies on the interactions among them are essential for conservation and management of such precious ecosystems.
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.
On the iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR), the cumulative impacts of tropical cyclones, marine heatwaves and regular outbreaks of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) have severely depleted coral cover. Climate change will further exacerbate this situation over the coming decades unless effective interventions are implemented. Evaluating the efficacy of alternative interventions in a complex system experiencing major cumulative impacts can only be achieved through a systems modelling approach. We have evaluated combinations of interventions using a coral reef meta-community model. The model consisted of a dynamic network of 3753 reefs supporting communities of corals and CoTS connected through ocean larval dispersal, and exposed to changing regimes of tropical cyclones, flood plumes, marine heatwaves and ocean acidification. Interventions included reducing flood plume impacts, expanding control of CoTS populations, stabilizing coral rubble, managing solar radiation and introducing heat-tolerant coral strains. Without intervention, all climate scenarios resulted in precipitous declines in GBR coral cover over the next 50 years. The most effective strategies in delaying decline were combinations that protected coral from both predation (CoTS control) and thermal stress (solar radiation management) deployed at large scale. Successful implementation could expand opportunities for climate action, natural adaptation and socioeconomic adjustment by at least one to two decades.
The adverse conditions of acidification on sensitive marine organisms has led to the investigation of bioremediation methods as a way to abate local acidification. This phytoremediation, by macrophytes, is expected to reduce the severity of acidification in nearshore habitats on short timescales. Characterizing the efficacy of phytoremediation can be challenging as residence time, tidal mixing, freshwater input, and a limited capacity to fully constrain the carbonate system can lead to erroneous conclusions. Here, we present in situ observations of carbonate chemistry relationships to seagrass habitats by comparing dense (DG), patchy (PG), and no grass (NG) Zostera marina pools in the high intertidal experiencing intermittent flooding. High-frequency measurements of pH, alkalinity (TA), and total-CO2 elucidate extreme diel cyclicity in all parameters. The DG pool displayed frequent decoupling between pH and aragonite saturation state (Ω arg ) suggesting pH-based inferences of acidification remediation by seagrass can be misinterpreted as pH and Ω arg can be independent stressors for some bivalves. Estimates show the DG pool had an integrated ΔTA of 550 μmol kg -1 over a 12 h period, which is ~60 % > the PG and NG pools. We conclude habitats with mixed photosynthesizes (i.e., PG pool) result in less decoupling between pH and Ωarg.
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 . 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.
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.
Global‐scale ocean acidification has spurred interest in the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to increase seawater pH within crucial shoreline habitats through photosynthetic activity. However, the dynamic variability of the coastal carbonate system has impeded generalization into whether seagrass aerobic metabolism ameliorates low pH on physiologically and ecologically relevant timescales. Here we present results of the most extensive study to date of pH modulation by seagrasses, spanning seven meadows (Zostera marina) and 1000 km of U.S. west coast over 6 years. Amelioration by seagrass ecosystems compared to non‐vegetated areas occurred 65% of the time (mean increase 0.07 ± 0.008 SE). Events of continuous elevation in pH within seagrass ecosystems, indicating amelioration of low pH, were longer and of greater magnitude than opposing cases of reduced pH or exacerbation. Sustained elevations in pH of >0.1, comparable to a 30% decrease in [H+], were not restricted only to daylight hours but instead persisted for up to 21 days. Maximal pH elevations occurred in spring and summer during the seagrass growth season, with a tendency for stronger effects in higher latitude meadows. These results indicate that seagrass meadows can locally alleviate low pH conditions for extended periods of time with important implications for the conservation and management of coastal ecosystems.
Globally, China has the largest scale of kelp cultivation and production operations. However, its kelp aquaculture industry is suffering from declining germplasm diversity, degradation of agronomic traits, the presence of polluted
environments, changing ocean conditions and increasing anthropological interference. This review covers two of the most commercially important kelp species in China, viz. Saccharina japonica and Undaria pinnatifida. It summarizes the history of their cultivation, production, economic and ecological benefits, their breeding programmes (e.g. inter- and intra-specific hybridization and marker-assisted selection) and efforts towards population genetic diversity and conservation. The article focuses on three significant challenges, for example genetic crosscontamination between the wild and farmed kelp populations, ocean warming and ocean acidification. Accordingly, we outline the steps required to provide several intervention measures, for example (i) collection and preservation of wild and cultivated kelp germplasm; (ii) selection of suitable cultivation sites under changing environmental conditions; (iii) developing stress-resistant cultivars; and finally, (iv) adoption of innovative cultivation models. The review concludes with genome-based, designs for molecular breeding and calls for the establishment of an East Asian Kelp Consortium (EAKC). Collectively, the Chinese kelp industry could provide beneficial goods and services, for example bioenergy to fine chemicals and environmental benefits, such as carbon capture, pH amelioration and provision of habitat for many other marine species of commercial value. The strategies proposed in this article thus have the potential to not only improve but also reinvigorate the kelp industry in China and nearby Japan and Korea, in the context of both environmental health and economic benefits.
Scientists increasingly agree that carbon dioxide removal will be needed, alongside deep emissions cuts, to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A wide variety of technologies and strategies have been proposed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To date, most research has focused on terrestrial-based approaches, but they often have large land requirements, and may present other risks and challenges. As such, there is growing interest in using the oceans, which have already absorbed more than a quarter of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, and could become an even larger carbon sink in the future.
This paper explores two ocean-based carbon dioxide removal strategies—ocean alkalinity enhancement and seaweed cultivation. Ocean alkalinity enhancement involves adding alkalinity to ocean waters, either by discharging alkaline rocks or through an electrochemical process, which increases ocean pH levels and thereby enables greater uptake of carbon dioxide, as well as reducing the adverse impacts of ocean acidification. Seaweed cultivation involves the growing of kelp and other macroalgae to store carbon in biomass, which can then either be used to replace more greenhouse gas-intensive products or sequestered.
- Acidification and recovery were assessed with high-pressure bioassays.
- No mortality was reported for Astarte sp. for a pH 7.0 scenario.
- Normal growth of shell length was recorded after CO2 exposure and a recovery period.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of the most promising mitigation strategies for reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere and may substantially help to decelerate global warming. There is an increasing demand for CCS sites. Nevertheless, there is a lack of knowledge of the environmental risk associated with potential leakage of CO2 from the storage sites; and even more, what happens when the seepage stops. Can the environment return to the initial equilibrium? Potential effects on native macrofauna were studied under a scenario of a 50-day CO2 leakage, and the subsequent leak closure. To accomplish the objective, Trondheim Fjord sediments and clams were exposed to an acidified environment (pH 6.9) at 29 atm for 7 weeks followed by a 14-day recovery at normal seawater conditions (pH 8.0, 29 atm). Growth and survival of clams exposed to pressure (29 atm) and reduced pH (6.9) did not significantly differ from control clams kept at 1 atm in natural seawater. Furthermore, bioaccumulation of elements in the soft tissue of clams did not register significant variations for most of the analysed elements (Cd, Cr, Pb, and Ti), while other elements (As, Cu, Fe, Ni) had decreasing concentrations in tissues under acidified conditions in contrast to Na and Mg, which registered an uptake (Ku) of 111 and 9.92 μg g−1dw d−1, respectively. This Ku may be altered due to the stress induced by acidification; and the element concentration being released from sediments was not highly affected at that pH. Therefore, a 1 unit drop in pH at the seafloor for several weeks does not appear to pose a risk for the clams.
It is now widely recognised that in order to reach the target of limiting global warming below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (as the objective of the Paris agreement) there is the need for development and implementation of active Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) strategies. Relatively few studies have assessed the mitigation capacity of ocean-based Negative Emission Technologies (NET) and the feasibility of their implementation on a larger scale to support efficient implementation strategies of CDR. This study investigates the case of marine alkalinisation, which has the additional potential of contrasting the ongoing acidification resulting from increased uptake of atmospheric CO2 by the seas. More specifically, we present an analysis of ocean alkalinisation applied to the Mediterranean Sea taking into consideration the regional characteristics of the basin. Rather than using idealised spatially homogenous scenarios of alkalinisation as done in previous studies, we use a set of numerical simulations of alkalinisation based on current shipping routes to quantitatively assess the alkalinisation efficiency via a coupled physical-biogeochemical model over the next decades. Simulations suggest the potential of nearly doubling the carbon-dioxide uptake rate of the Mediterranean Sea after 30 years of alkalinisation, and of neutralising the mean surface acidification trend of the baseline scenario without alkalinisation over the same time span. These levels are achieved via two different strategies: a first approach applying constant annual discharge of 200Mt Ca(OH)2 over the alkalinisation period and a second approach with gradually increasing discharge proportional to the surface pH trend of the baseline scenario reaching similar amounts of annual discharge by the end of the alkalinisation period. We demonstrate that via the latter approach it is possible to stabilise the mean surface pH at present day values and substantially increase the potential to counteract acidification relative to the alkalinity added while the carbon uptake efficiency is only marginally reduced. Nevertheless, significant local alterations of the surface pH persist, calling for an investigation of the physiological and ecological implications of the extent of these alterations to the carbonate system in the short to medium term in order to support a safe, sustainable application of this CDR implementation.
Seaweed farming has been proposed as a strategy for adaptation to ocean acidification, but evidence is largely lacking. Changes of pH and carbon system parameters in surface waters of three seaweed farms along a latitudinal range in China were compared, on the weeks preceding harvesting, with those of the surrounding seawaters. Results confirmed that seaweed farming is efficient in buffering acidification, with Saccharina japonica showing the highest capacity of 0.10 pH increase within the aquaculture area, followed by Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis (ΔpH = 0.04) and Porphyra haitanensis (ΔpH = 0.03). The ranges of pH variability within seaweed farms spanned 0.14-0.30 unit during the monitoring, showing intense fluctuations which may also help marine organisms adapt to enhanced pH temporal variations in the future ocean. Deficit in pCO2 in waters in seaweed farms relative to control waters averaged 58.7 ± 15.9 μatm, ranging from 27.3 to 113.9 μatm across farms. However, ΔpH did not significantly differ between day and night. Dissolved oxygen and Ωarag were also elevated in surface waters at all seaweed farms, which are benefit for the survival of calcifying organisms. Seaweed farming, which unlike natural seaweed forests, is scalable and is not dependent on suitable substrate or light availability, could serve as a low-cost adaptation strategy to ocean acidification and deoxygenation and provide important refugia from ocean acidification.