Posts Tagged 'modeling'

Modeled effect of coastal biogeochemical processes, climate variability, and ocean acidification on aragonite saturation state in the Bering Sea

The Bering Sea is highly vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA) due to naturally cold, poorly buffered waters and ocean mixing processes. Harsh weather conditions within this rapidly changing, geographically remote environment have limited the quantity of carbon chemistry data, thereby hampering efforts to understand underlying spatial-temporal variability and detect long-term trends. We add carbonate chemistry to a regional biogeochemical model of the Bering Sea to explore the underlying mechanisms driving carbon dynamics over a decadal hindcast (2003–2012). The results illustrate that coastal processes generate considerable spatial variability in the biogeochemistry and vulnerability of Bering Sea shelf water to OA. Substantial seasonal biological productivity maintains high supersaturation of aragonite on the outer shelf, whereas riverine freshwater runoff loaded with allochthonous carbon decreases aragonite saturation states (ΩArag) to values below 1 on the inner shelf. Over the entire 2003–2012 model hindcast, annual surface ΩArag decreases by 0.025 – 0.04 units/year due to positive trends in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) in surface waters and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). Variability in this trend is driven by an increase in fall phytoplankton productivity and shelf carbon uptake, occurring during a transition from a relatively warm (2003–2005) to cold (2010–2012) temperature regime. Our results illustrate how local biogeochemical processes and climate variability can modify projected rates of OA within a coastal shelf system.

Continue reading ‘Modeled effect of coastal biogeochemical processes, climate variability, and ocean acidification on aragonite saturation state in the Bering Sea’

Controls on carbonate system dynamics in a coastal plain estuary: a modelling study

The study of acidification in Chesapeake Bay is challenged by the complex spatial and temporal patterns of estuarine carbonate chemistry driven by highly variable freshwater and nutrient inputs. A new module was developed within an existing coupled hydrodynamic‐biogeochemical model to understand the underlying processes controlling variations in the carbonate system. We present a validation of the model against a diversity of field observations, which demonstrated the model’s ability to reproduce large‐scale carbonate chemistry dynamics of Chesapeake Bay. Analysis of model results revealed that hypoxia and acidification were observed to co‐occur in mid‐bay bottom waters and seasonal cycles in these metrics were regulated by aerobic respiration and vertical mixing. Calcium carbonate dissolution was an important buffering mechanism for pH changes in late summer, leading to stable or slightly higher pH values in this season despite persistent hypoxic conditions. Model results indicate a strong spatial gradient in air‐sea CO2 fluxes, where the heterotrophic upper bay was a strong CO2source to atmosphere, the mid bay was a net sink with much higher rates of net photosynthesis, and the lower bay was in a balanced condition. Scenario analysis revealed that reductions in riverine nutrient loading will decrease the acid water volume (pH <7.5) as a consequence of reduced organic matter generation and subsequent respiration, while bay‐wide dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) increased and pH declined under scenarios of continuous anthropogenic CO2 emission. This analysis underscores the complexity of carbonate system dynamics in a productive coastal plain estuary with large salinity gradients.

Continue reading ‘Controls on carbonate system dynamics in a coastal plain estuary: a modelling study’

Low and variable pH decreases recruitment efficiency in populations of a temperate coral naturally present at a CO2 vent

Atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment alters seawater carbonate chemistry, thus threatening calcifying organisms such as corals. Coral populations at carbon dioxide vents are natural acidification experiments that mimic organism responses to seawater pH values projected for 2100. Even if demographic traits are paramount information to assess ecological relationships and habitat suitability, population dynamics studies on corals thriving under acidified conditions are lacking. Here, we investigate the demography and reproduction of populations of the solitary, symbiotic, temperate coral Balanophyllia europaea naturally living along a pH gradient at a Mediterranean CO2 vent. Gametogenesis and larval production were unaffected while recruitment efficiency collapsed at low and variable pH, contributing to coral abundance decline and suggesting that life stages between larval release and early polyp growth are hindered by acidification. Exploring these processes is crucial to assess coral fate in the forthcoming acidified oceans, to preserve coral ecosystems and the socioeconomic services they provide.

Continue reading ‘Low and variable pH decreases recruitment efficiency in populations of a temperate coral naturally present at a CO2 vent’

Individual and population level effects of ocean acidification on a predator−prey system with inducible defenses: bryozoan−nudibranch interactions in the Salish Sea

Ocean acidification (OA) from in creased oceanic CO2 concentrations imposes significant physiological stresses on many calcifying organisms. OA effects on individual organisms may be synergistically amplified or reduced by inter- and intraspecies interactions as they propagate up to population and community
levels, altering predictions by studies of calcifier responses in isolation. The calcifying colonial bryozoan Membranipora membranacea and the predatory nudibranch Corambe steinbergae comprise a trophic system strongly regulated by predator induced defensive responses and space limitation, presenting a unique system to investigate OA effects on these regulatory mechanisms at individual and population levels. We experimentally quantified OA effects across a range of pH from 7.0 to 7.9 on growth, calcification, senescence and predator-induced spine formation in Membranipora, with or without waterborne predator cue, and on zooid consumption rates in Corambe at Friday Harbor Laboratories, San Juan Island, WA. Membranipora exhibited maximum growth and calcification at moderately low pH (7.6), and continued spine formation in all pH treatments.
Spines reduced Corambe zooid consumption rates, with lower pH weakening this effect. Using a spatially explicit model of colony growth, where colony area
serves as a proxy for colony fitness, we assessed the population-level impacts of these experimentally determined individual-level effects in the context of
space limitation. The area-based fitness costs associated with defense measured at the individual level led to amplified effects predicted for the population level due to competition. Our coupled experimental and modeling results demonstrate the need to consider population-level processes when assessing ecological responses to stresses from changing environments.

Continue reading ‘Individual and population level effects of ocean acidification on a predator−prey system with inducible defenses: bryozoan−nudibranch interactions in the Salish Sea’

Carbonate ion concentrations in seawater: Spectrophotometric determination at ambient temperatures and evaluation of propagated calculation uncertainties


• A new model is presented for direct determination of [CO32−] in seawater.
• The model is appropriate for temperature 3 to 40 °C and salinity 20 to 40.
• Measured [CO32−] is best paired with CT and AT in CO2 system calculations.
• Measured [CO32−] alone can yield reliable estimates of CaCO3 saturation states.
• [CO32−] can be used in a variety of ways as a fifth measured CO2 system variable.


In ocean waters, the carbonate ion is of crucial importance to benthic and pelagic organisms that build their physical support structures out of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Marine carbonate ion concentrations ([CO32−]) are measurable through spectrophotometric observations of the ultraviolet (UV) light absorbed by lead carbonate in Pb-enriched seawater, but previous characterizations of the Pb UV-absorption model have been applicable only at a fixed temperature of 25 °C. In this paper, the model is extended to a temperature range of 3 to 40 °C and a salinity range of 20 to 40. This advancement allows for determinations of [CO32−] with temperature measurement rather than temperature control, thus decreasing the required financial investment and instrumental complexity. The extended model also represents a significant step toward the development of automated inline or in situ [CO32−] sensors and promotes the utility of [CO32−] as a fifth measured variable for inclusion in studies of the marine carbon dioxide (CO2) system. Therefore, a quantitative evaluation of propagated uncertainties in CO2 system calculations based on [CO32−] as an input variable was also performed. The results show that total dissolved inorganic carbon (CT) and total alkalinity (AT) are the most suitable measured variables to pair with measured [CO32−] as input to such calculations. Pairing [CO32−] with the partial pressure of CO2 yields relatively low uncertainty in calculated pH — comparable to that resulting from conventional input pairs — but relatively high uncertainties in calculated AT and CT. Pairing [CO32−] with pH results in relatively high uncertainties in all calculated variables. CaCO3 saturation states (Ω) determined from measured [CO32−] (alone) can circumvent some sources of uncertainty inherent to conventional (two-variable) calculations. Simpler, more direct ways of measuring [CO32−] open up new opportunities for marine researchers and others interested in monitoring CaCO3 saturation states in seawater.

Continue reading ‘Carbonate ion concentrations in seawater: Spectrophotometric determination at ambient temperatures and evaluation of propagated calculation uncertainties’

In-situ incubation of a coral patch for community-scale assessment of metabolic and chemical processes on a reef slope

Anthropogenic pressures threaten the health of coral reefs globally. Some of these pressures directly affect coral functioning, while others are indirect, for example by promoting the capacity of bioeroders to dissolve coral aragonite. To assess the coral reef status, it is necessary to validate community-scale measurements of metabolic and geochemical processes in the field, by determining fluxes from enclosed coral reef patches. Here, we investigate diurnal trends of carbonate chemistry, dissolved organic carbon, oxygen, and nutrients on a 20 m deep coral reef patch offshore from the island of Saba, Dutch Caribbean by means of tent incubations. The obtained trends are related to benthic carbon fluxes by quantifying net community calcification (NCC) and net community production (NCP). The relatively strong currents and swell-induced near-bottom surge at this location caused minor seawater exchange between the incubated reef and ambient water. Employing a compensating interpretive model, the exchange is used to our advantage as it maintains reasonably ventilated conditions, which conceivably prevents metabolic arrest during incubation periods of multiple hours. No diurnal trends in carbonate chemistry were detected and all net diurnal rates of production were strongly skewed towards respiration suggesting net heterotrophy in all incubations. The NCC inferred from our incubations ranges from −0.2 to 1.4 mmol CaCO3 m−2 h−1 (−0.2 to 1.2 kg CaCO3 m−2 year−1) and NCP varies from −9 to −21.7 mmol m−2 h−1 (net respiration). When comparing to the consensus-based ReefBudget approach, the estimated NCC rate for the incubated full planar area (0.36 kg CaCO3 m−2 year−1) was lower, but still within range of the different NCC inferred from our incubations. Field trials indicate that the tent-based incubation as presented here, coupled with an appropriate interpretive model, is an effective tool to investigate, in situ, the state of coral reef patches even when located in a relatively hydrodynamic environment.

Continue reading ‘In-situ incubation of a coral patch for community-scale assessment of metabolic and chemical processes on a reef slope’

The role of calcification in carbonate compensation

The long-term recovery of the oceans from present and past acidification is possible due to neutralization by the dissolution of biogenic CaCO3 in bottom sediments, that is, carbonate compensation. However, such chemical compensation is unable to account for all features of past acidification events, such as the enhanced accumulation of CaCO3 at deeper depths after acidification. This overdeepening of CaCO3 accumulation led to the idea that an increased supply of alkalinity to the oceans, via amplified weathering of continental rocks, must accompany chemical compensation. Here we discuss an alternative: that changes to calcification, a biological process dependent on environmental conditions, can enhance and modify chemical compensation and account for overdeepening. Using a simplified ocean box model with both constant and variable calcification, we show that even modest drops in calcification can lead to appreciable long-term alkalinity build-up in the oceans and, thus, create overdeepening; we term this latter effect biological compensation. The chemical and biological manifestations of compensation differ in terms of controls, timing and effects, which we illustrate with model results. To better predict oceanic evolution during the Anthropocene and improve the interpretation of the palaeoceanographic record, it is necessary to better understand biological compensation.

Continue reading ‘The role of calcification in carbonate compensation’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book