Posts Tagged 'North Atlantic'

Ocean acidification impedes foraging behavior in the mud snail Ilyanassa obsoleta

Ocean acidification may diminish the response of many marine organisms to chemical cues that can be used to sense nearby food and predators, potentially altering community dynamics. We used a Y-maze choice experiment to investigate the impact of ocean acidification on the ability of mud snails (Ilyanassa obsoleta) to sense food cues in seawater. Mud snails have a well-adapted chemosensory system and play an important role in estuarine ecosystem functioning. Our results showed substantially diminished foraging success for the mud snail under acidified conditions, as snails typically moved towards the food cue in controls (pH 8.1) and away from it in acidified treatments (pH 7.6). These results, coupled with previous work, clearly demonstrate the magnitude at which ocean acidification may impair foraging efficiency, potentially resulting in severe alterations in future ecosystem dynamics.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification impedes foraging behavior in the mud snail Ilyanassa obsoleta’

The carbonate system and air-sea CO2 fluxes in coastal and open-ocean waters of the Macaronesia

Graphical abstract

The CO2 system, anthropogenic carbon (Cant) inventory and air-sea CO2 fluxes (FCO2) were analysed in the archipelagic waters of the Macaronesian region. The (sub)surface data were collected during POS533 (February and March, 2019) in coastal areas leeward of Cape Verde (CV), Canary Islands (CA) and Madeira (MA) and through the vessel track. The CO2 variability was controlled by changes in temperature, biological activity and advection processes forced by spatial heterogeneities in the Canary Upwelling System, the mixed layer depth, the mesoscale activity and the circulation patterns. The surface fCO2,sw variability was driven by biological production and CO2-rich water injection in tropical waters and by temperature fluctuations in subtropical waters. The factors controlling the upper ocean changes in the total inorganic carbon normalized to a constant salinity (NCT) were assessed. The uptake and storage of anthropogenic carbon, calculated by using the TrOCA 2007 approach described, as an upper limit, > 60% (>90% above the MLD) of the NCT increase from preformed values. The organic carbon pump accounted 36.6-40.9% for tropical waters and lose importance for subtropical waters (7.5-11.6%), while the carbonate pump has a minimal contribution (<4.2%). The upper-ocean Cant inventory in coastal areas of CV (8,570 Km2), CA (7.960 Km2) and MA (1,250 Km2) was 7.57 x 103, 9.26 x 103 and 8.86 x 103 µmol kg-1, respectively (0.51, 0.58 and 0.09 Tg C, respectively). In terms of FCO2, the CV, CA and MA behaved as a winter CO2 sink (-4.74, -3.90 and -8.34 mmol m-2d-1, respectively) while a strong outgassing was detected over the Cape Blanc filament (20-25 mmol m-2d-1). The total average FCO2 for the ocean area of the three archipelagos (371,250 Km2) was -28.27 Gg CO2 d-1. The POS533 data were compared and compilated with SOCAT and GLODAP data and a new set of equations was provided to calculate the fCO2,sw, Cant and FCO2 in the Macaronesian region based on physical and biogeochemical properties.

Continue reading ‘The carbonate system and air-sea CO2 fluxes in coastal and open-ocean waters of the Macaronesia’

Ocean acidification and warming modify stimulatory benthos effects on sediment functioning: an experimental study on two ecosystem engineers

Many macrofauna have a stimulatory effect on sediment functioning through their burrowing, feeding and irrigation activities. Here, we investigated the single and combined effect of ocean acidification and warming on the stimulatory effect of two key-species inhabiting sandy seabeds in the Southern Bight of the North Sea; the bivalve Abra alba and the polychaete Lanice conchilega. The species were separately incubated in natural sediment in the laboratory under ambient, low pH (pH: -0.3), warm (T: + 3°C) and mimicked climate change (pH: -0.3, T: +3°C) conditions. After six weeks of incubation, nutrient and oxygen exchange were measured at the sediment-water interface to estimate aerobic sediment metabolism and nitrogen cycling. Both species facilitate sediment community oxygen consumption, nitrification and denitrification under ambient conditions. The stimulatory effect of A. alba disappeared in a low pH environment and decreased over time in the warmer treatments along with increased mortality. In contrast, L. conchilega stimulated sediment biogeochemical cycling more when seawater becomes acidified (+ 8 to 41%, depending on the function) but warming had no effect. We explain these species-specific climate change effects by different behavioral and physiological coping strategies that cascade on to sediment biogeochemical cycling, especially through altered oxygenation the sediment matrix.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and warming modify stimulatory benthos effects on sediment functioning: an experimental study on two ecosystem engineers’

Deoxygenation, acidification and warming in Waquoit Bay, USA, and a shift to pelagic dominance

Coastal nutrient pollution, or eutrophication, is commonly linked to anthropogenic influences in terrestrial watersheds, where land-use changes often degrade water quality over time. Due to gradual changes, the management and monitoring of estuarine systems often lag environmental degradation. One example can be found at the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, where we developed an analysis framework to standardize and analyze long-term trends in water quality and submerged vegetation data from monitoring programs that began in the 1990s. These programs started after the nearly complete loss of historically extensive Zostera marina (eelgrass) meadows throughout the estuary. Recently, eelgrass only persisted in small, undeveloped sub-embayments of the estuary, with conservative declines of over 97% in areal coverage. Over the past 2 decades, the average deoxygenation, acidification, and warming were −24.7 µmol O2 kg−1 (−11%), 0.006 µmol H+ kg−1 (+ 34%), and 1.0 °C (+ 4%), respectively. Along with the loss of eelgrass, there was also a decline in macroalgal biomass over 3 decades, resulting in a system dominated by pelagic metabolism, indicated by a 71% increase in water column chlorophyll a concentrations since 2009. This recent increase in phytoplankton biomass, which is highly mobile and transported throughout the estuary by tides, has resulted in recent degradation of isolated embayments despite their lower nutrient loads. This shift toward pelagic dominance in Waquoit Bay may indicate that other eutrophic and warming estuaries may also shift toward pelagic dominance in the future, as the Northeastern US is one of the fastest warming regions across the world.

Continue reading ‘Deoxygenation, acidification and warming in Waquoit Bay, USA, and a shift to pelagic dominance’

Understanding the dynamic response of Durafet-based sensors: a case study from the Murderkill Estuary-Delaware Bay system (Delaware, USA)


  • A SeapHOx sensor package was deployed in a dynamic estuarine environment.
  • The responses of the Durafet’s internal and external reference electrodes were assessed.
  • Previously unreported dynamic errors in their temperature and salinity responses were characterized.
  • A dynamic sensor response correction for the external reference electrode was developed.


The use of Durafet-based sensors has proliferated in recent years, but their performance in estuarine waters (salinity < 20) where rapid changes in temperature and salinity are frequently observed requires further scrutiny. Here, the responses of the Honeywell Durafet and its internal (pHINT) and external (pHEXT) reference electrodes integrated into a SeapHOx sensor at the confluence of the Murderkill Estuary and Delaware Bay (Delaware, USA) were assessed over extensive ranges of temperature (1.34–32.27°C), salinity (1.17–29.82), and rates of temperature (dT/dt; −1.46 to +1.53°C (0.5 h)−1) and salinity (dSalt/dt; −3.55 to +11.09 (0.5 h)−1) change. Empirical analyses indicated dynamic errors in the temperature and salinity responses of the internal and external reference electrodes, respectively, driven by tidal mixing were introduced into our pH time-series. These dynamic errors drove large anomalies between pHINT and pHEXT (denoted ΔpHINT−EXT) that reached >±0.8 pH in winter when the lowest temperatures and maximum tidal salinity variability occurred and >±0.15 pH in summer when the highest temperatures and minimum tidal salinity variability occurred. The ΔpHINT−EXT anomalies demonstrated a clear linear relationship with dSalt/dt thereby making dSalt/dt the strongest limiting factor of reference electrode response in our application. A dynamic sensor response correction for the external reference electrode (solid-state chloiride ion-selective electrode, Cl-ISE) was also developed and applied in the voltage domain. This correction reduced winter and summer ΔpHINT−EXT anomaly ranges by >40% and 68.7%, respectively. Summer anomalies were notably reduced to <±0.04 pH across all measurements. Further, this correction also removed the first-order salinity dependence of these anomalies. Consequently, dynamic errors in reference electrode response cannot be ignored and must be considered in future experimental designs. Further work to better understand the dynamic temperature and salinity responses of both reference electrodes is underway. Ultimately, we hope this work will stimulate further discussion around the role and treatment of large ΔpHINT−EXT anomalies as a part of future data quality control and data reporting as well as the dynamic errors in reference electrode response that drive them in the context of Sensor Best Practices.

Continue reading ‘Understanding the dynamic response of Durafet-based sensors: a case study from the Murderkill Estuary-Delaware Bay system (Delaware, USA)’

Wanted dead or alive: skeletal structure alteration of cold-water coral Desmophyllum pertusum (Lophelia pertusa) from anthropogenic stressors

Ocean acidification (OA) has provoked changes in the carbonate saturation state that may alter the formation and structural biomineralisation of calcium carbonate exoskeletons for marine organisms. Biomineral production in organisms such as cold-water corals (CWC) rely on available carbonate in the water column and the ability of the organism to sequester ions from seawater or nutrients for the formation and growth of a skeletal structure. As an important habitat structuring species, it is essential to examine the impact that anthropogenic stressors (i.e., OA and rising seawater temperatures) have on living corals and the structural properties of dead coral skeletons; these are important contributors to the entire reef structure and the stability of CWC mounds. In this study, dead coral skeletons in seawater were exposed to various levels of pCO2 and different temperatures over a 12-month period. Nanoindentation was subsequently conducted to assess the structural properties of coral samples’ elasticity (E) and hardness (H), whereas the amount of dissolution was assessed through scanning electron microscopy. Overall, CWC samples exposed to elevated pCO2 and temperature show changes in properties which leave them more susceptible to breakage and may in turn negatively impact the formation and stability of CWC mound development.

Continue reading ‘Wanted dead or alive: skeletal structure alteration of cold-water coral Desmophyllum pertusum (Lophelia pertusa) from anthropogenic stressors’

Common sea star (Asterias rubens) coelomic fluid changes in response to short-term exposure to environmental stressors

Common sea stars (Asterias rubens) are at risk of physiological stress and decline with projected shifts in oceanic conditions. This study assessed changes in coelomic fluid (CF) blood gases, electrolytes, osmolality, and coelomocyte counts in adult common sea stars after exposure to stressors mimicking effects from climate change for 14 days, including decreased pH (−0.4 units, mean: 7.37), hypoxia (target dissolved oxygen ~1.75 mg O2/L, mean: 1.80 mg O2/L), or increased temperature (+10 °C, mean: 17.2 °C) and compared sea star CF electrolytes and osmolality to tank water. Changes in CF blood gases, electrolytes, and/or coelomocyte counts occurred in all treatment groups after stressor exposures, indicating adverse systemic effects with evidence of increased energy expenditure, respiratory or metabolic derangements, and immunosuppression or inflammation. At baseline, CF potassium and osmolality of all groups combined were significantly higher than tank water, and, after exposures, CF potassium was significantly higher in the hypoxia group as compared to tank water. These findings indicate physiological challenges for A. rubens after stressor exposures and, given increased observations of sea star wasting events globally, this provides evidence that sea stars as a broad group are particularly vulnerable to changing oceans.

Continue reading ‘Common sea star (Asterias rubens) coelomic fluid changes in response to short-term exposure to environmental stressors’

Spatiotemporal variability of pH and carbonate parameters on the Canadian Atlantic Continental Shelf between 2014 and 2020

The Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program (AZMP) was established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in 1998 with the aim of monitoring physical and biological ocean conditions in Atlantic Canada in support of fisheries management. Since 2014, at least two of the carbonate parameters (pH, Total Alkalinity – TA, Dissolved Inorganic Carbon – DIC) have also been systematically measured as part of the AZMP, enabling the calculation of derived parameters (e.g., carbonate saturation states – Ω, partial pressure of CO2 – pCO2, etc.). The present study gives an overview of the spatiotemporal variability of these parameters between 2014 and 2020. Results show that the variability of carbonate parameters reflects changes in both physical (e.g., temperature, salinity) and biological (e.g., plankton photosynthesis and respiration) parameters. For example, most of the region undergoes a seasonal warming and freshening. While the former will tend to increase Ω, the latter will decrease both TA and Ω. Spring and summer plankton blooms decrease DIC near the surface and then remineralize and increase DIC at depth in the fall. The lowest pCO2 values are located in the cold Coastal Labrador Current and the highest in the fresh waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence Estuary. The latter is also the host of the lowest pH values of the zone. Finally, most of the bottom waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence are undersaturated with respect to aragonite (Ωarg<1). In addition to providing a baseline of carbonate parameters of the Atlantic Zone as a whole, this comprehensive overview is a necessary and useful contribution for the modeling community and for more in-depth studies. The full data set of measured and derived parameters is available in the Federated Research Data Repository at

Continue reading ‘Spatiotemporal variability of pH and carbonate parameters on the Canadian Atlantic Continental Shelf between 2014 and 2020’

Differential effects of ocean acidification and warming on biological functioning of a predator and prey species may alter future trophic interactions


  • Multiple environmental stressors act upon multiple trophic levels.
  • Mollusc predator and prey respond differently to future climate scenarios.
  • Prey are negatively impacted physiologically and behaviourally.
  • Predators unaffected resulting in elevated predation risk for prey.
  • Potential for fundamental change in trophic interactions affecting biodiversity.


Independently, ocean warming (OW) and acidification (OA) from increased anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide are argued to be two of the greatest threats to marine organisms. Increasingly, their interaction (ocean acidification and warming, OAW) is shown to have wide-ranging consequences to biological functioning, population and community structure, species interactions and ecosystem service provision. Here, using a multi-trophic experiment, we tested the effects of future OAW scenarios on two widespread intertidal species, the blue mussel Mytilus edulis and its predator Nucella lapillus. Results indicate negative consequences of OAW on the growth, feeding and metabolic rate of M. edulis and heightened predation risk. In contrast, Nucella growth and metabolism was unaffected and feeding increased under OAW but declined under OW suggesting OA may offset warming consequences. Should this differential response between the two species to OAW, and specifically greater physiological costs to the prey than its predator come to fruition in the nature, fundamental change in ecosystem structure and functioning could be expected as trophic interactions become disrupted.

Continue reading ‘Differential effects of ocean acidification and warming on biological functioning of a predator and prey species may alter future trophic interactions’

Hydrological and biogeochemical controls on estuarine carbonate chemistry along a climate gradient

Increasing global atmospheric CO2 concentrations drive a net flux of CO2 into the oceans, mitigating the impacts of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions on the climate. This results in a reduction in pH and carbonate saturation state, a.k.a. ocean acidification, of marine waters. The acidified ocean water may advect into estuaries, leading to estuarine acidification. Many estuaries are highly sensitive to this acidification due to low buffer capacity. Because estuaries provide many important ecosystem services, alterations in their carbonate systems may have significant consequences on ecosystems and the economy. Despite the current understanding that estuaries may play a disproportionately important role in global air-sea CO2 flux, little is known about carbonate systems in subtropical estuaries. Further comprehension of estuarine carbonate systems is vital for quantification of the global carbon cycle. Specifically, subtropical estuaries in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico (nwGOM) exhibit a general long-term decrease in pH and total alkalinity (TA), with lower latitudes experiencing more extreme acidification than higher latitudes.

In Chapter II, sediment cores and slurries from the semiarid Mission-Aransas Estuary of the nwGOM were incubated and surface waters were analyzed for contributions of biogeochemical processes to TA change. Changes in total TA as well as calcium and sulfate ion concentration were examined following known reaction stoichiometry. Ratio of TA: ion changes suggested that carbonate dissolution co-occurred with oxidation of reduced sulfur species, and the latter consumed TA during drought periods in Mission-Aransas Estuary. This biogeochemical (sulfide oxidation) TA consumption has been poorly studied yet may affect TA budget in other semiarid estuaries worldwide.

In Chapter III, river alkalinity total load and concentration were calculated using the United States Geological Survey’s Fortran Load Estimator Program (LOADEST) and long-term trends in alkalinity and discharge of six major nwGOM rivers were determined. Stepwise multiple linear regression methods were used to generate models for predicting estuarine TA based on river alkalinity, year, and net evaporation (evaporation-precipitation). Some rivers were found to have long-term (multidecadal) declines in freshwater discharge, area-weighted alkalinity yield, of alkalinity flow-weighted concentration, with most declines occurring in the southern end of the study region. Freshwater flow-weighted alkalinity concentration (annual alkalinity load for an area divided by discharge) appeared in many of the predictive models for estuarine TA and may play a major role in regulating estuarine TA of the nwGOM. Methods for linking freshwater and estuarine carbonate dynamics are lacking in the scientific literature; this study provides a potentially useful approach for predicting estuarine carbonate chemistry based on freshwater quality and input.

In Chapter IV, CO2 flux of the Trinity-San Jacinto Estuary (Galveston Bay) was calculated and compared to results from discrete samples for carbonate parameters. Inferences about spatial and temporal patterns in CO2 flux as well as ecosystem metabolism were made based on results. The Trinity-San Jacinto Estuary was found to be a net sink for atmospheric CO2, but with high seasonal and spatial variability. Specifically, large freshwater inflows in spring stimulated photosynthesis in the estuary, which increased the sink behavior. Seasons with less freshwater inflow resulted in higher heterotrophy and CO2 emission in some regions of the estuary.

This research increases knowledge and research capacity in the nwGOM region on estuarine acidification and carbonate chemistry. Causes of acidification in major estuaries within the region were addressed along a latitudinal climatic gradient. This will aid with better management of fresh and estuarine water resources in the nwGOM. The results of this research will also clarify the role of semiarid, subtropical estuaries in the global carbon cycle and expand our range of knowledge on carbonate system analyses of estuaries.

Continue reading ‘Hydrological and biogeochemical controls on estuarine carbonate chemistry along a climate gradient’

Restoration and coral adaptation delay, but do not prevent, climate-driven reef framework erosion of an inshore site in the Florida Keys

For reef framework to persist, calcium carbonate production by corals and other calcifiers needs to outpace loss due to physical, chemical, and biological erosion. This balance is both delicate and dynamic and is currently threatened by the effects of ocean warming and acidification. Although the protection and recovery of ecosystem functions are at the center of most restoration and conservation programs, decision makers are limited by the lack of predictive tools to forecast habitat persistence under different emission scenarios. To address this, we developed a modelling approach, based on carbonate budgets, that ties species-specific responses to site-specific global change using the latest generation of climate models projections (CMIP6). We applied this model to Cheeca Rocks, an outlier in the Florida Keys in terms of high coral cover, and explored the outcomes of restoration targets scheduled in the coming 20 years at this site by the Mission: Iconic Reefs restoration initiative. Additionally, we examined the potential effects of coral thermal adaptation by increasing the bleaching threshold by 0.25, 0.5, 1 and 2˚C. Regardless of coral adaptative capacity or restoration, net carbonate production at Cheeca Rocks declines heavily once the threshold for the onset of annual severe bleaching is reached. The switch from net accretion to net erosion, however, is significantly delayed by mitigation and adaptation. The maintenance of framework accretion until 2100 and beyond is possible under a decreased emission scenario coupled with thermal adaptation above 0.5˚C. Although restoration initiatives increase reef accretion estimates, Cheeca Rocks will only be able to keep pace with future sea-level rise in a world where anthropogenic CO2 emissions are reduced. Present results, however, attest to the potential of restoration interventions combined with increases in coral thermal tolerance to delay the onset of mass bleaching mortalities, possibly in time for a low-carbon economy to be implemented and complementary mitigation measures to become effective.

Continue reading ‘Restoration and coral adaptation delay, but do not prevent, climate-driven reef framework erosion of an inshore site in the Florida Keys’

Dissolved CO2 and oxygen dynamics on coral reefs: from natural variability and impacts on calcification to projections under warming

Coral reefs globally are facing impacts from ocean warming, acidification, and oxygen loss as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Understanding the spatiotemporal patterns of reef carbonate chemistry and oxygen variability, as well as how low pH or oxygen conditions might affect coral physiology, is key to predicting how global reefs will be impacted in the future. In this dissertation, I leveraged dissolved oxygen data from autonomous sensors deployed at 32 sites around the world to explore present-day oxygen variability and project changes in hypoxia exposure under modeled ocean warming. I show that hypoxia is pervasive on global coral reefs, with 84 % of the reef habitats surveyed experiencing weak to moderate hypoxia and 13 % experiencing severe hypoxia under present-day conditions. Calculations of reef oxygen loss under 5 warming scenarios reveal that warming will increase the duration, intensity, and severity of hypoxic events on reefs, leading to severely hypoxic conditions on more than a third of these reef habitats by 2100. In case studies of reefs in Bermuda and Taiwan, I examined multidimensional variability in carbonate chemistry and oxygen across a reef and assessed the potential for seagrass beds to serve as refugia for corals from ocean acidification and deoxygenation. In Bermuda, data from spatial seawater surveys and a suite of autonomous sensors at the surface and benthos revealed strong signals of both benthic and water column productivity that interacted with local geomorphology and hydrodynamics to create the observed patterns in carbonate chemistry and oxygen across the reef. In Taiwan, strong gradients in temperature, pH, and oxygen across the seagrass bed were associated with significant differences in coral skeletal extension rate, density, and ∂13C isotopic composition measured from coral cores. However, there was no evidence that the presence of seagrass significantly impacted coral calcification rates along this gradient. Altogether, this dissertation provides projections of coral reef oxygen loss under rapid climate change and highlights the contributions of local conditions to observed variability in seawater chemistry with complex impacts on coral growth.

Continue reading ‘Dissolved CO2 and oxygen dynamics on coral reefs: from natural variability and impacts on calcification to projections under warming’

Resistant calcification responses of Arctica islandica clams under ocean acidification conditions


  • We cultured both juvenile and adult A. islandica collected from northern Norway under a range of pH
  • Arctica islandica from Norway can maintain its shell growth even in aragonite undersaturated (Ω < 1) conditions.
  • Our results show that shell growthresilience in acidified seawater is likely a multi-population adaptation in A. islandica.


Ocean acidification (OA) directly impacts marine calcifying organisms including ecologically and commercially important shellfish species such as Arctica islandica (A. islandica). To test whether documented growth resilience of A. islandica to OA is a general response across ages and populations or a function of adaptation to local habitat, we cultured juvenile and adult clams collected from an environment with little pH variation under four pH levels (7.5, 7.7, 7.9, and 8.1) for three months and integrated our understanding with relevant literature. The average shell growth over the experiment among all (69) individuals was 57 ± 55 μm, and there were no statistically significant differences in growth among pH treatments, including the control treatment, despite the general growth rate differences between juveniles and adults. Our results show that A. islandica can maintain its shell growth even in aragonite undersaturated (Ω < 1) conditions (0.65 and 0.83 for pH 7.5 and 7.7 treatments, respectively), supporting the hypothesis that resistance to OA conditions is likely a generalized response across populations. Although the present results show A. islandica can maintain their shell growth under short-term OA, long-term impacts of OA on A. islandica shell growth and other physical parameters including shell density and microstructure are still needed to better assess the sustainability of A. islandica in a more acidified future and to provide guidance on managing this important shellfish stock.

Continue reading ‘Resistant calcification responses of Arctica islandica clams under ocean acidification conditions’

Effect of plankton composition shifts in the North Atlantic on atmospheric pCO2


Marine carbon cycle processes are important for taking up atmospheric CO2 thereby reducing climate change. Net primary and export production are important pathways of carbon from the surface to the deep ocean where it is stored for millennia. Climate change can interact with marine ecosystems via changes in the ocean stratification and ocean circulation. In this study we use results from the Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2) to assess the effect of a changing climate on biological production and phytoplankton composition in the high latitude North Atlantic Ocean. We find a shift in phytoplankton type dominance from diatoms to small phytoplankton which reduces net primary and export productivity. Using a conceptual carbon-cycle model forced with CESM2 results, we give a rough estimate of a positive phytoplankton composition-atmospheric CO2 feedback of approximately 60 GtCO2/°C warming in the North Atlantic which lowers the 1.5° and 2.0°C warming safe carbon budgets.

Key Points

  • Biological production decreases significantly in the high latitude North Atlantic in Community Earth System Model version 2 under the SSP5-8.5 scenario
  • Phytolankton type dominance shifts from diatoms to small phytoplankton
  • A positive feedback loop is diagnosed where changes in the physical system decrease biological production, reducing oceanic uptake of CO2
Continue reading ‘Effect of plankton composition shifts in the North Atlantic on atmospheric pCO2’

The history of chemical concepts and field studies of CO2 in seawater: a tribute to Kurt Buch (1881–1967)

This review of the research on the marine CO2 system spans the time between the mid-19th century and the first years after World War II. It covers the period from the first attempts to determine the amount of CO2 dissolved in seawater to the first complete physico-chemical characterization of the marine CO2 system. The development of the latter was significantly influenced by the theoretical and experimental work of the Finnish chemical oceanographer Kurt Buch (1881–1967) during the first half of the 20th century. To acknowledge his outstanding achievements in Chemical Oceanography, this review is dedicated to him.

The first part of our discussion is organized along the characteristic variables of the marine CO2 system. The analytical procedures that led successively to the definition of total CO2, alkalinity (“neutral carbonate”), the CO2 partial pressure (“CO2 tension”) and pH are briefly described. We trace the attempts to connect these variables quantitatively through the mass action law. After several failed attempts, CO2 dissociation constants were finally determined with the support of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (1931). Their results constituted the basis of the marine CO2 studies conducted after World War II.

The second focus of our review refers to the various field studies, including early measurements of total CO2 and alkalinity during Norwegian (1878) and Danish expeditions (1895/96) in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean and the first measurements of surface water pCO2 in the North Atlantic, in 1902. Furthermore, we acknowledge the achievements of the German Atlantic expedition (1925–1927) for the characterization of the vertical and horizontal distribution of pH, pCO2 and CaCO3 saturation in the Atlantic Ocean. Among Buch’s field studies of the CO2 system, we consider the Finnish monitoring program, in which pH and alkalinity were measured at over 70 stations in the northern Baltic Sea.

Whenever it is appropriate, we show the connection between past scientific ideas, concepts and knowledge with current efforts and developments concerning the understanding of the marine carbon cycle and its response to increasing atmospheric CO2.

Continue reading ‘The history of chemical concepts and field studies of CO2 in seawater: a tribute to Kurt Buch (1881–1967)’

A biogeochemical alkalinity sink in a shallow, semiarid estuary of the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

Estuarine total alkalinity (TA), which buffers against acidification, is temporally and spatially variable and regulated by complex, interacting hydrologic and biogeochemical processes. During periods of net evaporation (drought), the Mission-Aransas Estuary (MAE) of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico experienced TA losses beyond what can be attributed to calcification. The contribution of sedimentary oxidation of reduced sulfur to the TA loss was examined in this study. Water column samples were collected from five stations within MAE and analyzed for salinity, TA, and calcium ion concentrations. Sediment samples from four of these monitoring stations and one additional station within MAE were collected and incubated between 2018 and 2021. TA, calcium, magnesium, and sulfate ion concentrations were analyzed for these incubations. Production of sulfate along with TA consumption (or production) beyond what can be attributed to calcification (or carbonate dissolution) was observed. These results suggest that oxidation of reduced sulfur consumed TA in MAE during droughts. We estimate that the upper limit of TA consumption due to reduced sulfur oxidation can be as much as 4.60 × 108 mol day−1 in MAE. This biogeochemical TA sink may be present in other similar subtropical, freshwater-starved estuaries around the world.

Continue reading ‘A biogeochemical alkalinity sink in a shallow, semiarid estuary of the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico’

Alkalinity and nitrate dynamics reveal dominance of anammox in a hyper-turbid estuary

Total alkalinity (TA) regulates the oceanic storage capacity of atmospheric CO2. TA is produced along two general pathways, weathering reactions and anaerobic respiration of organic matter, e.g., by denitrification, the anaerobic reduction of nitrate (NO3-) to elemental nitrogen (N2). Anammox, is another anaerobic pathway, yields N2 as its terminal product via comproportionation of ammonium (NH4+) and nitrite (NO2-); this is, however, without release of alkalinity as a byproduct. In order to investigate these two nitrate / nitrite respiration pathways and their resulting impact on TA generation, we sampled the highly turbid estuary of the Ems River, discharging into the North Sea in June 2020. We sampled a transect from the Wadden Sea to the upper tidal estuary, five vertical profiles during ebb tide, and fluid mud for incubation experiments in the hyper-turbid tidal river. The data reveal a strong increase of TA and DIC in the tidal river, where stable nitrate isotopes indicate water column denitrification as the dominant pathway. In the fluid mud of the tidal river, the TA data imply only low denitrification rates, with the majority of the N2 being produced by anammox (> 90 %). The relative abundances of anammox and denitrification, respectively, thus exert a major control on the CO2 storage capacity of adjacent coastal waters.

Continue reading ‘Alkalinity and nitrate dynamics reveal dominance of anammox in a hyper-turbid estuary’

Seasonal changes of trace elements, nutrients, dissolved organic matter, and coastal acidification over the largest oyster reef in the Western Mississippi Sound, USA

Seasonal changes of trace elements, nutrients, dissolved organic matter (DOM), and carbonate system parameters were evaluated over the largest deteriorating oyster reef in the Western Mississippi Sound using data collected during spring, summer, and winter of 2018, and summer of 2019. Higher concentrations of Pb (224%), Cu (211%), Zn (2400%), and Ca (240%) were observed during winter of 2018 compared to summer 2019. Phosphate and ammonia concentrations were higher (> 800%) during both summers of 2018 and 2019 than winter of 2018. Among the three distinct DOM components identified, two terrestrial humic-like components were more abundant during both spring (12% and 36%) and summer (11% and 33%) of 2018 than winter of 2018, implying a relatively lesser supply of humic-like components from terrestrial sources during winter. On the other hand, the protein-like component was more abundant during summer of 2019 compared to rest of the study period, suggesting a higher rate of autochthonous production during summer 2019. In addition, to their significant depth-wise variation, ocean acidification parameters including pH, pCO2, CO32−, and carbonate saturation states were all higher during both summers of 2018 and 2019. The measured variables such as trace elements, organic carbon, suspended particulates, and acidification parameters exhibited conservative mixing behavior against salinity. These observations have strong implications for the health of the oyster reefs, which provides ecologically important habitats and supports the economy of the Gulf Coast.

Continue reading ‘Seasonal changes of trace elements, nutrients, dissolved organic matter, and coastal acidification over the largest oyster reef in the Western Mississippi Sound, USA’

Impacts of ocean acidification and warming on post-larval growth and metabolism in two populations of the great scallop (Pecten maximus L.)

Ocean acidification and warming are key stressors for many marine organisms. Some organisms display physiological acclimatisation or plasticity, but this may vary across species ranges, especially if populations are adapted to local climatic conditions. Understanding how acclimatisation potential varies among populations is therefore important in predicting species responses to climate change. We carried out a common garden experiment to investigate how different populations of the economically important great scallop (Pecten maximus) from France and Norway responded to variation in temperature and pCO2 concentration. After acclimation, post-larval scallops (spat) were reared for 31 days at one of two temperatures (13°C and 19°C) under either ambient or elevated pCO2 (pH 8.0 and pH 7.7). We combined measures of proteomic, metabolic, and phenotypic traits to produce an integrative picture of how physiological plasticity varies between the populations. The proteome of French spat showed significant sensitivity to environmental variation, with 12 metabolic, structural and stress-response proteins responding to temperature and/or pCO2. Principal component analysis revealed seven energy metabolism proteins in French spat that were consistent with countering ROS stress under elevated temperature. Oxygen uptake in French spat did not change under elevated temperature, but increased under elevated pCO2. In contrast, Norwegian spat reduced oxygen uptake under both elevated temperature and pCO2. Metabolic plasticity seemingly allowed French scallops to maintain greater energy availability for growth than Norwegian spat. However, increased physiological plasticity and growth in French spat may come at a cost, as French (but not Norwegian) spat showed reduced survival under elevated temperature.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of ocean acidification and warming on post-larval growth and metabolism in two populations of the great scallop (Pecten maximus L.)’

A positive temperature-dependent effect of elevated CO2 on growth and lipid accumulation in the planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus

Calanus finmarchicus were reared from eggs to adults at 12°C and 16°C with non-limiting food in combination with ambient (600 μatm) and high (1100 μatm) pCO2. These conditions are likely to be encountered by the species at the southern margins of its biogeographical range by the end of the century. Dry weight (DW), carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) mass, oil-sac volume (OSV), fatty acid composition (FA), and oxygen consumption rates (OCR) were measured on newly molted stage CV copepodites and recently molted adult females. By focusing our measurements on these precise events in the life cycle, we were able to obtain a more accurate comparison of growth and respiration across treatments. Copepods raised at 12°C had a significantly greater DW, OSV, and C and N mass than those raised at 16°C High pCO2, independent of temperature, was associated with a further increase in the DW and C content of the copepods. Interactive effects of temperature and pCO2 resulted in a larger OSV at low temperature and high pCO2. Mass-specific respiration rates were significantly lower at lower temperatures and elevated pCO2 suggesting that the increase in mass (DW, C, and OSV) resulted from reduced metabolic cost. The composition of fatty acids in the copepods varied mainly with temperature. Two fatty acids varied with pCO2: 16:0 tended to decrease with higher pCO2 and 18:3n−3 tended to increase with higher pCO2. These observations suggest that elevated pCO2/lower pH in future oceans may have a beneficial effect on C. finmarchicus.

Continue reading ‘A positive temperature-dependent effect of elevated CO2 on growth and lipid accumulation in the planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus’

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: