Posts Tagged 'modeling'

Comparing model parameterizations of the biophysical impacts of ocean acidification to identify limitations and uncertainties


• We explored model approaches for ocean acidification effects on marine organisms.
• Modelled effects on aerobic performance were scaled up to population level dynamics.
• Results were sensitive to model structure, then scenario and parameter uncertainty.
• Sensitivity was variable across species and the source of uncertainty.
• Integrated global change models progress development of future scenarios.


Ocean acidification (OA) driven by anthropogenic CO2 emissions affects marine ecosystems, fisheries and aquaculture. Assessing the impacts of OA using projection models facilitates the development of future scenarios and potential solutions. Here, we explored various ways to incorporate OA impacts into a multi-stressor dynamic bioclimatic envelope model to project biogeographic changes of ten commercially exploited invertebrate species. We examine three dimensions of uncertainties in modelling biophysical OA effects: model structure, parameterization, and scenario uncertainty. Our results show that projected OA impacts are most sensitive to the choice of structural relationship between OA and biological responses, followed by the choice of climate change emission scenarios and parameterizations of the size of OA effects. Species generally showed negative effects to OA but sensitivity to the various sources of uncertainty were not consistent across or within species. For example, some species showed higher sensitivity to structural uncertainty and very low sensitivity to parameter uncertainty, while others showed greatest sensitivity to parameter uncertainty. This variability is largely due to geographic variability and difference in life history traits used to parameterize model simulations. Our model highlights the variability across the sources of uncertainty and contributes to the development of integrating OA impacts in species distribution models. We further stress the importance of defining the limitations and assumptions, as well as exploring the range of uncertainties associated with modelling OA impacts.

Continue reading ‘Comparing model parameterizations of the biophysical impacts of ocean acidification to identify limitations and uncertainties’

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’

Quantitative interpretation of vertical profiles of calcium and pH in the coral coelenteron


• In this study, pH and Ca2+ microsensors were reported together with a theoretical analysis by a reaction-diffusion model to study the dynamics of pH and Ca2+ in the coelenteron of the reef corals Turbinaria reniformis and Acropora millepora.
• Our study showed that Ca2+ concentrations linearly decreased from the mouth to the base of the coelenteron due to calcification.
• The estimated H+ gradient between the coelenteron cavity and the calcification site was >10 times higher than previously predicted between outside seawater and the calcification site.
• Our numerical simulation reveals that OA reduces the internal pH at the base of the coelenteron, and this pH decline is greatly amplified in corals with a deeper coelenteron.


Scleratinian corals (hard corals) and their symbiotic algae are the ecological engineers of biodiverse and geological important coral reef habitats. The complex, linked physiological processes that enable the holobiont (coral + algae) to calcify and generate reef structures are consequently of great interest. However, the mechanism of calcification is difficult to study for several reasons including the small spatial scales of the processes and the close coupling between the symbiont and host. In this study, we explore the utility of pH and Ca2+ microelectrodes for constraining the rates and spatial distribution of photosynthesis, respiration, and calcification. The work focuses on vertical profiles of pH and Ca2+ through the coelenteron cavity, a semi-isolated compartment of modified seawater amenable to quantitative interpretation. In two studied species, Turbinaria reniformis and Acropora millepora, Ca2+ concentrations decreased in a roughly linear manner from the mouth to the base of the coelenteron, indicating the primary physiological process affecting Ca2+ concentration is removal for calcification below the coelenteron. In contrast, the H+ concentration remained relatively constant over much of the coelenteron cavity before it increased sharply toward the base of the coelenteron, indicative of proton-pumping from the calcification fluid below. The estimated H+ gradient between the coelenteron cavity and the calcification site was >10 times higher than previously predicted. Consequently, the energy required to export protons from the calcifying fluid was estimated to be ~3 times higher than previously calculated. A one-dimensional reaction-diffusion model was used to interpret the pH profile considering the effects of photosynthesis, respiration, and calcification. This model provided a good fit to the observed pH profile and helped to constrain the rates and spatial distribution of these processes. Our modeling results also suggested that adult corals with deeper polyps may be more sensitive to ocean acidification (OA) because of enhanced difficulty to transport H+ out of the coelenteron and into the surrounding seawater.

Continue reading ‘Quantitative interpretation of vertical profiles of calcium and pH in the coral coelenteron’

Metrology for pH measurements in brackish waters – Part 1: Extending electrochemical pHT measurements of TRIS buffers to salinities 5–20

Harned cell pHT measurements were performed on 2-amino-2-hydroxymethyl-1,3-propanediol (TRIS) buffered artificial seawater solutions in the salinity range 5–20, at three equimolal buffer concentrations (0.01, 0.025, 0.04 mol·kg-H2O−1), and in the temperature range 278.15–318.15 K. Measurement uncertainties were assigned to the pHT values of the buffer solutions and ranged from 0.002 to 0.004 over the investigated salinity and temperature ranges. The pHT values were combined with previous results from literature covering salinities from 20 to 40. A model function expressing pHT as a function of salinity, temperature and TRIS/TRIS·H+ molality was fitted to the combined data set. The results can be used to reliably calibrate pH instruments traceable to primary standards and over the salinity range 5–40, in particular, covering the low salinity range of brackish water for the first time. At salinities 5–20 and 35, the measured dependence of pHT on the TRIS/TRIS·H+ molality enables extrapolation of quantities calibrated against the pHT values, e.g., the dissociation constants of pH indicator dyes, to be extrapolated to zero TRIS molality. Extrapolated quantities then refer to pure synthetic seawater conditions and define a true hydrogen ion concentration scale in seawater media.

Continue reading ‘Metrology for pH measurements in brackish waters – Part 1: Extending electrochemical pHT measurements of TRIS buffers to salinities 5–20’

Climate, ocean circulation, and sea level changes under stabilization and overshoot pathways to 1.5 K warming (update)

The Paris Agreement has initiated a scientific debate on the role that carbon removal – or net negative emissions – might play in achieving less than 1.5 K of global mean surface warming by 2100. Here, we probe the sensitivity of a comprehensive Earth system model (GFDL-ESM2M) to three different atmospheric CO2 concentration pathways, two of which arrive at 1.5 K of warming in 2100 by very different pathways. We run five ensemble members of each of these simulations: (1) a standard Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP4.5) scenario, which produces 2 K of surface warming by 2100 in our model; (2) a stabilization pathway in which atmospheric CO2 concentration never exceeds 440 ppm and the global mean temperature rise is approximately 1.5 K by 2100; and (3) an overshoot pathway that passes through 2 K of warming at mid-century, before ramping down atmospheric CO2 concentrations, as if using carbon removal, to end at 1.5 K of warming at 2100. Although the global mean surface temperature change in response to the overshoot pathway is similar to the stabilization pathway in 2100, this similarity belies several important differences in other climate metrics, such as warming over land masses, the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), ocean acidification, sea ice coverage, and the global mean sea level change and its regional expressions. In 2100, the overshoot ensemble shows a greater global steric sea level rise and weaker AMOC mass transport than in the stabilization scenario, with both of these metrics close to the ensemble mean of RCP4.5. There is strong ocean surface cooling in the North Atlantic Ocean and Southern Ocean in response to overshoot forcing due to perturbations in the ocean circulation. Thus, overshoot forcing in this model reduces the rate of sea ice loss in the Labrador, Nordic, Ross, and Weddell seas relative to the stabilized pathway, suggesting a negative radiative feedback in response to the early rapid warming. Finally, the ocean perturbation in response to warming leads to strong pathway dependence of sea level rise in northern North American cities, with overshoot forcing producing up to 10 cm of additional sea level rise by 2100 relative to stabilization forcing.

Continue reading ‘Climate, ocean circulation, and sea level changes under stabilization and overshoot pathways to 1.5 K warming (update)’

Climate–carbon cycle uncertainties and the Paris agreement

The Paris Agreement1 aims to address the gap between existing climate policies and policies consistent with “holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 C”. The feasibility of meeting the target has been questioned both in terms of the possible requirement for negative emissions2 and ongoing debate on the sensitivity of the climate–carbon-cycle system3. Using a sequence of ensembles of a fully dynamic three-dimensional climate–carbon-cycle model, forced by emissions from an integrated assessment model of regional-level climate policy, economy, and technological transformation, we show that a reasonable interpretation of the Paris Agreement is still technically achievable. Specifically, limiting peak (decadal) warming to less than 1.7 °C, or end-of-century warming to less than 1.54 °C, occurs in 50% of our simulations in a policy scenario without net negative emissions or excessive stringency in any policy domain. We evaluate two mitigation scenarios, with 200 gigatonnes of carbon and 307 gigatonnes of carbon post-2017 emissions respectively, quantifying the spatio-temporal variability of warming, precipitation, ocean acidification and marine productivity. Under rapid decarbonization decadal variability dominates the mean response in critical regions, with significant implications for decision-making, demanding impact methodologies that address non-linear spatio-temporal responses. Ignoring carbon-cycle feedback uncertainties (which can explain 47% of peak warming uncertainty) becomes unreasonable under strong mitigation conditions.

Continue reading ‘Climate–carbon cycle uncertainties and the Paris agreement’

Model constraints on the anthropogenic carbon budget of the Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is projected to experience not only amplified climate change but also amplified ocean acidification. Modeling future acidification depends on our ability to simulate baseline conditions and changes over the industrial era. Such centennial-scale changes require a global model to account for exchange between the Arctic and surrounding regions. Yet the coarse resolution of typical global models may poorly resolve that exchange as well as critical features of Arctic Ocean circulation. Here we assess how simulations of Arctic Ocean storage of anthropogenic carbon (Cant), the main driver of open- ocean acidification, differ when moving from coarse to eddy admitting resolution in a global ocean circulation-biogeochemistry model (NEMO-PISCES). The Arctic’s regional storage of Cant is enhanced as model resolution increases. While the coarse- resolution model configuration ORCA2 (2°) stores 2.0 Pg C in the Arctic Ocean between 1765 and 2005, the eddy-admitting versions ORCA05 and ORCA025 (1/2° and 1/4°) store 2.4 and 2.6 Pg C. That result from ORCA025 falls within the uncertainty range from a previous data-based Cant storage estimate (2.5 to 3.3 Pg C). Yet those limits may each need to be reduced by about 10 % because data-based Cant concentrations in deep waters remain at ∼ 6 μmol kg−1, while they should be almost negligible by analogy to the near-zero observed CFC-12 concentrations from which they are calculated. Across the three resolutions, there was roughly three times as much anthropogenic carbon that entered the Arctic Ocean through lateral transport than via the flux of CO2 across the air-sea interface. Wider comparison to nine earth system models that participated in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) reveals much larger diversity of stored anthropogenic carbon and lateral transport. Only the CMIP5 models with higher lateral transport obtain Cant inventories that are close to the data-based estimates. Increasing resolution also enhances acidification, e.g., with greater shoaling of the Arctic’s average depth of the aragonite saturation horizon during 1960–2012, from 50 m in ORCA2 to 210 m in ORCA025. To assess the potential to further refine modeled estimates of the Arctic Ocean’s Cant storage and acidification, sensitivity tests that adjust model parameters are needed given that century-scale global ocean biogeochemical simulations still cannot be run routinely at high resolution.

Continue reading ‘Model constraints on the anthropogenic carbon budget of the Arctic Ocean’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book