Posts Tagged 'North Atlantic'

The northern European shelf as an increasing net sink for CO2 (update)

We developed a simple method to refine existing open-ocean maps and extend them towards different coastal seas. Using a multi-linear regression we produced monthly maps of surface ocean fCO2 in the northern European coastal seas (the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Norwegian Coast and the Barents Sea) covering a time period from 1998 to 2016. A comparison with gridded Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT) v5 data revealed mean biases and standard deviations of 0 ± 26 µatm in the North Sea, 0 ± 16 µatm along the Norwegian Coast, 0 ± 19 µatm in the Barents Sea and 2 ± 42 µatm in the Baltic Sea. We used these maps to investigate trends in fCO2, pH and air–sea CO2 flux. The surface ocean fCO2 trends are smaller than the atmospheric trend in most of the studied regions. The only exception to this is the western part of the North Sea, where sea surface fCO2 increases by 2 µatm yr−1, which is similar to the atmospheric trend. The Baltic Sea does not show a significant trend. Here, the variability was much larger than the expected trends. Consistently, the pH trends were smaller than expected for an increase in fCO2 in pace with the rise of atmospheric CO2 levels. The calculated air–sea CO2 fluxes revealed that most regions were net sinks for CO2. Only the southern North Sea and the Baltic Sea emitted CO2 to the atmosphere. Especially in the northern regions the sink strength increased during the studied period.

Continue reading ‘The northern European shelf as an increasing net sink for CO2 (update)’

Climate change mitigation effects: how do potential CO2 leaks from a sub-seabed storage site in the Norwegian Sea affect Astarte sp. bivalves?


  • 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.

Continue reading ‘Climate change mitigation effects: how do potential CO2 leaks from a sub-seabed storage site in the Norwegian Sea affect Astarte sp. bivalves?’

Extreme levels of ocean acidification restructure the plankton community and biogeochemistry of a temperate coastal ecosystem: a mesocosm study

The oceans’ uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) decreases seawater pH and alters the inorganic carbon speciation – summarized in the term ocean acidification (OA). Already today, coastal regions experience episodic pH events during which surface layer pH drops below values projected for the surface ocean at the end of the century. Future OA is expected to further enhance the intensity of these coastal extreme pH events. To evaluate the influence of such episodic OA events in coastal regions, we deployed eight pelagic mesocosms for 53 days in Raunefjord, Norway, and enclosed 56–61 m3 of local seawater containing a natural plankton community under nutrient limited post-bloom conditions. Four mesocosms were enriched with CO2 to simulate extreme pCO2 levels of 1978 – 2069 μatm while the other four served as untreated controls. Here, we present results from multivariate analyses on OA-induced changes in the phyto-, micro-, and mesozooplankton community structure. Pronounced differences in the plankton community emerged early in the experiment, and were amplified by enhanced top-down control throughout the study period. The plankton groups responding most profoundly to high CO2 conditions were cyanobacteria (negative), chlorophyceae (negative), auto- and heterotrophic microzooplankton (negative), and a variety of mesozooplanktonic taxa, including copepoda (mixed), appendicularia (positive), hydrozoa (positive), fish larvae (positive), and gastropoda (negative). The restructuring of the community coincided with significant changes in the concentration and elemental stoichiometry of particulate organic matter. Results imply that extreme CO2 events can lead to a substantial reorganization of the planktonic food web, affecting multiple trophic levels from phytoplankton to primary and secondary consumers.

Continue reading ‘Extreme levels of ocean acidification restructure the plankton community and biogeochemistry of a temperate coastal ecosystem: a mesocosm study’

Weekly reconstruction of pH and total alkalinity in an upwelling-dominated coastal ecosystem through neural networks (ATpH-NN): The case of Ría de Vigo (NW Spain) between 1992 and 2019

Short and long-term variability of seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) system shows large differences between different ecosystems which are derived from the characteristic processes of each area. The high variability of coastal ecosystems, their ecological and economic significance, the anthropogenic influence on them and their behavior as sources or sinks of atmospheric CO2, highlight the relevance to better understand the processes that underlie the variability and the alterations of the CO2 system at different spatiotemporal scales. To confidently achieve this purpose, it is necessary to have high-frequency data sustained over several years in different regions. In this work, we contribute to this need by configuring and training two neural networks with the capacity to model the weekly variability of pH and total alkalinity (AT) in the upper 50 m of the water column of the Ría de Vigo (NW Spain), with an error of 0.031 pH units and 10.9 µmol kg−1 respectively. With these networks, we generated weekly time series of pH and AT in seven locations of the Ría de Vigo in three depth ranges (0–5 m, 5–10 m and 10–15 m), which adequately represent independent discrete measurements. In a first analysis of the time series, a high short-term variability is observed, being larger for the inner stations of the Ría de Vigo. The lowest values of pH and AT were obtained for the inner zone, showing a progressive increase towards the outer/middle zone of the ría. The mean seasonal cycle also reflects the gradient between both zones, with a larger amplitude and variability for both variables in the inner zone. On the other hand, the long-term trends derived from the time series of pH show a higher acidification than that obtained for the open ocean, with surface trends ranging from −0.020 pH units per year in the outer/middle zone to −0.032 pH units per year in the inner zone. In addition, positive long-term trends of AT were obtained ranging from 0.39 µmol kg−1 per year in the outer/middle zone to 2.86 µmol kg−1 per year in the inner zone. The results presented in this study show the changing conditions both in the short and long-term variability as well as the spatial differentiation between the inner and outer/middle zone to which the organisms of the Ría de Vigo are subjected. The neural networks and the database provided in this study offer the opportunity to evaluate the CO2 system in an environment of high ecological and economic relevance, to validate high-resolution regional biogeochemical models and to evaluate the impacts on organisms of the Ría de Vigo by refining the ranges of the biogeochemical variables included in experiments.

Continue reading ‘Weekly reconstruction of pH and total alkalinity in an upwelling-dominated coastal ecosystem through neural networks (ATpH-NN): The case of Ría de Vigo (NW Spain) between 1992 and 2019’

Biogeochemical timescales of climate change onset and recovery in the North Atlantic interior under rapid atmospheric CO2 forcing

Anthropogenic climate change footprints in the ocean go beyond the mixed layer depth, with considerable impacts throughout mesopelagic and deep-ocean ecosystems. Yet, little is known about the timing of these environmental changes, their spatial extent, and the associated timescales of recovery in the ocean interior when strong mitigation strategies are involved. Here, we simulate idealized rapid climate change and mitigation scenarios using the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM) to investigate timescales of climate change onset and recovery and the extent of change in the North Atlantic (NAtl) interior relative to Pre-industrial (PI) variability across a suite of environmental drivers (Temperature – T; pH; Dissolved Oxygen – DO; Apparent Oxygen Utilization – AOU; Export Production – EP; and Calcite saturation state – Ω<sub>c</sub>). We show that, below the subsurface domains, responses of these drivers are asymmetric and detached from the anthropogenic forcing with large spatial variations. Vast regions of the interior NAtl experience detectable anthropogenic signal significantly earlier and over a longer period than those projected for the subsurface. In contrast to surface domains, the NAtl interior remains largely warmer relative to PI (up to +50%) following the mitigation scenario, with anomalously lower EP, pH and Ω<sub>c</sub> (up to -20%) south of 30°N. Oxygenation in the upper mesopelagic of up to +20% is simulated, mainly driven by a decrease in consumption during remineralization. Our study highlights the need for long-term commitment focused on pelagic and deep-water ecosystem monitoring to fully understand the impact of anthropogenic climate change on the North Atlantic biogeochemistry.

Continue reading ‘Biogeochemical timescales of climate change onset and recovery in the North Atlantic interior under rapid atmospheric CO2 forcing’

CO2 fluxes in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean based on measurements from a surface ocean observation platform


  • The SST controls the seasonal and spatial variation of CO2 fugacity and fluxes.
  • The pH and fCO2 shows spatial variability associated with upwelling influence.
  • NCT variation was mainly governed by biological activity and slightly affected by air-sea fluxes.
  • During 2019, the Northeast Atlantic region behaved as an annual CO2 sink of -2.65 ± 0.44 Tg CO2 yr-1
  • VOS lines are a powerful tool to study de CO2 system and fluxes in the coastal surface area.


The seasonal and spatial variability of the CO2 system parameters and CO2 air-sea exchange were studied in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean between the northwest African coastal upwelling and the oligotrophic open-ocean waters of the North Atlantic subtropical gyre. Data was collected aboard a volunteer observing ship from February 2019 to February 2020. The seasonal and spatial variability of CO2 fugacity in seawater (fCO2,sw) was strongly driven by the seasonal temperature variation, which increased with latitude and was lower throughout the year in coastal regions where the upwelling and offshore transport was more intense. The thermal to biological effect ratio (T/B) was approximately 2, with minimum values along the African coastline related to higher biological activity in the upwelled waters. The fCO2,sw increased from winter to summer by 11.84 ± 0.28 μatm°C-1 on the inter-island routes and by 11.71 ± 0.25 μatm°C-1 along the northwest African continental shelf. The seasonality of total inorganic carbon normalized to constant salinity of 36.7 (NCT) was studied throughout the region. The effect of biological processes and calcification/dissolution on NCT between February and October represented >90% of the reduction of inorganic carbon while air-sea exchange described <6%. The seasonality of air-sea CO2 exchange was controlled by temperature. The surface waters of the entire region acted as a CO2 sink during the cold months and as a CO2 source during the warm months. The Canary basin acted as a net sink of -0.26 ± 0.04 molC m-2 yr-1. The northwest African continental shelf behaved as a stronger sink at -0.48 ± 0.09 molC m-2 yr-1. The calculated average CO2 flux for the entire area was -2.65 ± 0.44 TgCO2 yr-1 (-0.72 ± 0.12 TgC yr-1).

Continue reading ‘CO2 fluxes in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean based on measurements from a surface ocean observation platform’

Ocean circulation drives the variability of the carbon system in the Eastern Tropical Atlantic

The carbon system in the eastern tropical Atlantic remains poorly known. The variability and drivers of the carbon system are assessed using surface dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), alkalinity (TA) and fugacity of CO2 (fCO2) measured in the 12° N–12° S, 12° W–12° E region from 2005 to 2019. A relationship linking DIC to temperature, salinity and year has been determined, with salinity being the strongest predictor. The seasonal variations of DIC, ranging from 80 to 120 mol kg−1, are more important than the year-to-year variability that is less than 50 mol kg−1 over the 2010–2019 period. DIC and TA concentrations are lower in the northern part of the basin where surface waters are fresher and warmer. Carbon supply dominates over biological carbon uptake during the productive upwelling period from July to September. The lowest DIC and TA are located in the Congo plume. The influence of the Congo is still observed at the mooring at 6° S, 8° E as shown by large salinity and chlorophyll variations. Nevertheless, this site is a source of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

Continue reading ‘Ocean circulation drives the variability of the carbon system in the Eastern Tropical Atlantic’

Synoptic assessment of coastal total alkalinity through community science

Comprehensive sampling of the carbonate system in estuaries and coastal waters can be difficult and expensive because of the complex and heterogeneous nature of near-shore environments. We show that sample collection by community science programs is a viable strategy for expanding estuarine carbonate system monitoring and prioritizing regions for more targeted assessment. ‘Shell Day’ was a single-day regional water monitoring event coordinating coastal carbonate chemistry observations by 59 community science programs and seven research institutions in the northeastern United States, in which 410 total alkalinity (TA) samples from 86 stations were collected. Field replicates collected at both low and high tides had a mean standard deviation between replicates of 3.6 ± 0.3 µmol kg−1 (σmean ± SE, n = 145) or 0.20 ± 0.02%. This level of precision demonstrates that with adequate protocols for sample collection, handling, storage, and analysis, community science programs are able to collect TA samples leading to high-quality analyses and data. Despite correlations between salinity, temperature, and TA observed at multiple spatial scales, empirical predictions of TA had relatively high root mean square error >48 µmol kg−1. Additionally, ten stations displayed tidal variability in TA that was not likely driven by low TA freshwater inputs. As such, TA cannot be predicted accurately from salinity using a single relationship across the northeastern US region, though predictions may be viable at more localized scales where consistent freshwater and seawater endmembers can be defined. There was a high degree of geographic heterogeneity in both mean and tidal variability in TA, and this single-day snapshot sampling identified three patterns driving variation in TA, with certain locations exhibiting increased risk of acidification. The success of Shell Day implies that similar community science based events could be conducted in other regions to not only expand understanding of the coastal carbonate system, but also provide a way to inventory monitoring assets, build partnerships with stakeholders, and expand education and outreach to a broader constituency.

Continue reading ‘Synoptic assessment of coastal total alkalinity through community science’

The Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis: responses to climate change scenarios as a function of the original habitat

The impact of simulated seawater acidification and warming conditions on specimens of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis locally adapted to very distinct, widely separated sites in the Mediterranean Sea (Tunisia) and Atlantic Sea (Galicia, NW Spain) was evaluated in relation to key behavioral and eco-physiological parameters. Over the 2-month exposure to the experimental conditions, mussels were fed optimally to ensure that there are no synergistic interactions between climate change drivers and energetic status of the individuals. In general, regardless of origin (Atlantic or Mediterranean), the mussels were rather resilient to acidification for most of the parameters considered and they were able to grow in strongly acidified seawater through an increased feeding activity. However, shell strength decreased (40%) consistently in both mussel populations held in moderately and highly acidified seawater. The observed reduction in shell strength was not explained by slight alterations in organic matter, shell thickness or aragonite: calcite ratio. The combined effects of high acidification and warming on the key response of byssus strength caused a strong decline in mussel performance, although only in Galician mussels, in which the valve opening time decreased sharply as well as condition index (soft tissue state) and shell growth. By contrast, the observed negative effect of highly acidified scenario on the strength of Tunisian mussel shells was (partly but not totally) counterbalanced by the higher seawater temperature. Eco-physiological and behavioral interactions in mussels in relation to climate change are complex, and future scenarios for the ecology of the species and also the feasibility of cultivating them in Atlantic and Mediterranean zones are discussed.

Continue reading ‘The Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis: responses to climate change scenarios as a function of the original habitat’

Coastal ocean acidification and nitrogen loading facilitate invasions of the non-indigenous red macroalga, Dasysiphonia japonica

Coastal ecosystems are prone to multiple anthropogenic and natural stressors including eutrophication, acidification, and invasive species. While the growth of some macroalgae can be promoted by excessive nutrient loading and/or elevated pCO2, responses differ among species and ecosystems. Native to the western Pacific Ocean, the filamentous, turf-forming rhodophyte, Dasysiphonia japonica, appeared in estuaries of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean during the 1980s and the northwestern Atlantic Ocean during the late 2000s. Here, we report on the southernmost expansion of the D. japonica in North America and the effects of elevated nutrients and elevated pCO2 on the growth of D. japonica over an annual cycle in Long Island, New York, USA. Growth limitation of the macroalga varied seasonally. During winter and spring, when water temperatures were < 15 °C, growth was significantly enhanced by elevated pCO2 (p < 0.05). During summer and fall, when the water temperature was 15–24 °C, growth was significantly higher under elevated nutrient treatments (p < 0.05). When temperatures reached 28 °C, the macroalga grew poorly and was unaffected by nutrients or pCO2. The δ13C content of regional populations of D. japonica was −30‰, indicating the macroalga is an obligate CO2-user. This result, coupled with significantly increased growth under elevated pCO2 when temperatures were < 15 °C, indicates this macroalga is carbon-limited during colder months, when in situ pCO2 was significantly lower in Long Island estuaries compared to warmer months when estuaries are enriched in metabolically derived CO2. The δ15N content of this macroalga (9‰) indicated it utilized wastewater-derived N and its N limitation during warmer months coincided with lower concentrations of dissolved inorganic N in the water column. Given the stimulatory effect of nutrients on this macroalga and that eutrophication can promote seasonally elevated pCO2, this study suggests that eutrophic estuaries subject to peak annual temperatures < 28 °C may be particularly vulnerable to future invasions of D. japonica as ocean acidification intensifies. Conversely, nutrient reductions would serve as a management approach that would make coastal regions more resilient to invasions by this macroalga.

Continue reading ‘Coastal ocean acidification and nitrogen loading facilitate invasions of the non-indigenous red macroalga, Dasysiphonia japonica’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book