Posts Tagged 'North Atlantic'

Investigating controls on boron isotope ratios in shallow marine carbonates

The boron isotope-pH proxy has been widely used to reconstruct past ocean pH values. In both planktic foraminifera and corals, species-specific calibrations are required in order to reconstruct absolute values of pH, due to the prevalence of so-called vital effects — physiological modification of the primary environmental signals by the calcifying organisms. Shallow marine abiotic carbonate (e.g. ooids and cements) could conceivably avoid any such calibration requirement, and therefore provide a potentially useful archive for reconstructions in deep (pre-Cenozoic) time. However, shallow marine abiotic carbonates could also be affected by local shifts in pH caused by microbial photosynthesis and respiration, something that has up to now not been fully tested. In this study, we present boron isotope measurements from shallow modern marine carbonates, from the Bahama Bank and Belize to investigate the potential of using shallow water carbonates as pH archives, and to explore the role of microbial processes in driving nominally ‘abiogenic’ carbonate deposition. For Bahama bank samples, our boron-based pH estimates derived from a range of carbonate types (i.e. ooids, peloids, hardground cements, carbonate mud, stromatolitic micrite and calcified filament micrite) are higher than the estimated modern mean-annual seawater pH values for this region. Furthermore, the majority (73%) of our marine carbonate-based pH estimates fall out of the range of the estimated pre-industrial seawater pH values for this region. In shallow sediment cores, we did not observe a correlation between measured pore water pH and boron-derived pH estimates, suggesting boron isotope variability is a depositional rather than early diagenetic signal. For Belize reef cements, conversely, the pH estimates are lower than likely in situ seawater pH at the time of cement formation. This study indicates the potential for complications when using shallow marine non-skeletal carbonates as marine pH archives. In addition, variability in δ11B based pH estimates provides additional support for the idea that photosynthetic CO2 uptake plays a significant role in driving carbonate precipitation in a wide range of shallow water carbonates.

Continue reading ‘Investigating controls on boron isotope ratios in shallow marine carbonates’

Development and application of foraminiferal carbonate system proxies to quantify ocean acidification in the California Current

The oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon has mitigated climate change, but has also resulted in a global average 0.1 decline in surface ocean pH over 20th century known as ocean acidification. The parallel reduction in carbonate ion concentration ([CO32-]) and the saturation state of seawater (Ω) has caused many major calcium carbonate-secreting organisms such as planktonic foraminifera to exhibit impaired calcification. We develop proxy calibrations and down core records that use calcification and geochemical characteristics of planktonic foraminifera as proxies for the marine carbonate system. This study focuses specifically on the surface ocean chemistry of the California Current Ecosystem (CCE), which has been identified as a region of rapidly progressing ocean acidification due to natural upwelling processes and the low buffering capacity of these waters. The calibration portion of this study uses marine sediments collected by the Santa Barbara Basin (SBB), California sediment-trapping program located in the central region of the CCE. We calibrate the relationships of Globigerina bulloides calcification intensity to [CO3 2-] and the B/Ca ratios of G. bulloides, Neogloboquadrina dutertrei and Neogloboquadrina incompta shells to Ω calcite using in situ measurements and model simulations of these independent variables. By applying these proxy methods to down core, our records from the SBB indicate a 20% reduction in foraminiferal calcification since ~1900, translating to a 35% decline in [CO 32-] in the CCE over this period. Our high-resolution calcification record also reveals a substantial interannual to decadal modulation of ocean acidification in the CCE related to the sign of Pacific Decadal Oscillation and El Niño Southern Oscillation. In the future we can expect these climatic modes to both enhance and moderate anthropogenic ocean acidification. Based on our historic record, we predict that if atmospheric CO2 reaches 540 ppm by the year 2100 as predicted by a conservative CO3 pathway, [CO32-] will experience a net reduction of 55%, resulting in at least a 30% reduction in calcification of planktonic foraminifera that will likely be mirrored by other adversely affected marine calcifiers.

Continue reading ‘Development and application of foraminiferal carbonate system proxies to quantify ocean acidification in the California Current’

Inorganic carbon and water masses in the Irminger Sea since 1991

The subpolar gyre region in the North Atlantic is a major sink for anthropogenic carbon. While the storage rates show large interannual variability related to atmospheric forcing, less is known about variability in the natural Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) and the combined impact of variations in the two components on the total DIC inventories. Here, data from 15 cruises in the Irminger Sea covering 1991–2015 were used to determine changes in total DIC and its natural and anthropogenic components in relation to the distribution and evolution of the main water masses. The inventory of DIC increased by 1.43 ± 0.17 mol m−2 yr−1 over the period, mainly driven by the increase in anthropogenic carbon (1.84 ± 0.16 mol m−2 yr −1), but partially offset by a loss of natural DIC (−0.57 ± 0.22 mol m−2 yr−1). Changes in the carbon storage rate can be driven by concentration changes in the water column, for example due to ageing of water masses, or by changes in the distribution of water masses with different concentrations, either by local formation or advection. A decomposition of the trends into their main drivers showed that variations of natural DIC inventories are mainly driven by changes in the layer thickness of the main water masses, while anthropogenic carbon is most affected by concentration changes. The storage rates of anthropogenic carbon are sensitive to data selection, while changes in DIC inventory show a robust signal on short timescales, associated with the strength of convection.

Continue reading ‘Inorganic carbon and water masses in the Irminger Sea since 1991’

Twenty years of marine carbon cycle observations at Devils Hole Bermuda provide insights into seasonal hypoxia, coral reef calcification, and ocean acidification

Open–ocean observations have revealed gradual changes in seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) chemistry resulting from uptake of atmospheric CO2 and ocean acidification (OA), but, with few long–term records (>5 years) of the coastal ocean that can reveal the pace and direction of environmental change. In this paper, observations collected from 1996 to 2016 at Harrington Sound, Bermuda, constitute one of the longest time–series of coastal ocean inorganic carbon chemistry. Uniquely, such changes can be placed into the context of contemporaneous offshore changes observed at the nearby Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site. Onshore, surface dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2; >10% change per decade) have increased and OA indicators such as pH and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) saturation state (Ω) decreased from 1996 to 2016 at a rate of two to three times that observed offshore at BATS. Such changes, combined with reduction of total alkalinity over time, reveal a complex interplay of biogeochemical processes influencing Bermuda reef metabolism, including net ecosystem production (NEP = gross primary production–autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration) and net ecosystem calcification (NEC = gross calcification–gross CaCO3 dissolution). These long–term data show a seasonal shift between wintertime net heterotrophy and summertime net autotrophy for the entire Bermuda reef system. Over annual time-scales, the Bermuda reef system does not appear to be in trophic balance, but rather slightly net heterotrophic. In addition, the reef system is net accretive (i.e., gross calcification > gross CaCO3 dissolution), but there were occasional periods when the entire reef system appears to transiently shift to net dissolution. A previous 5–year study of the Bermuda reef suggested that net calcification and net heterotrophy have both increased. Over the past 20 years, rates of net calcification and net heterotrophy determined for the Bermuda reef system have increased by ~30%, most likely due to increased coral nutrition occurring in concert with increased offshore productivity in the surrounding subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. Importantly, this long–term study reveals that other environmental factors (such as coral feeding) can mitigate against the effects of ocean acidification on coral reef calcification, at least over the past couple of decades.

Continue reading ‘Twenty years of marine carbon cycle observations at Devils Hole Bermuda provide insights into seasonal hypoxia, coral reef calcification, and ocean acidification’

Influence of ocean acidification on plankton community structure during a winter-to-summer succession: An imaging approach indicates that copepods can benefit from elevated CO2 via indirect food web effects

Plankton communities play a key role in the marine food web and are expected to be highly sensitive to ongoing environmental change. Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) causes pronounced shifts in marine carbonate chemistry and a decrease in seawater pH. These changes–summarized by the term ocean acidification (OA)–can significantly affect the physiology of planktonic organisms. However, studies on the response of entire plankton communities to OA, which also include indirect effects via food-web interactions, are still relatively rare. Thus, it is presently unclear how OA could affect the functioning of entire ecosystems and biogeochemical element cycles. In this study, we report from a long-term in situ mesocosm experiment, where we investigated the response of natural plankton communities in temperate waters (Gullmarfjord, Sweden) to elevated CO2 concentrations and OA as expected for the end of the century (~760 μatm pCO2). Based on a plankton-imaging approach, we examined size structure, community composition and food web characteristics of the whole plankton assemblage, ranging from picoplankton to mesozooplankton, during an entire winter-to-summer succession. The plankton imaging system revealed pronounced temporal changes in the size structure of the copepod community over the course of the plankton bloom. The observed shift towards smaller individuals resulted in an overall decrease of copepod biomass by 25%, despite increasing numerical abundances. Furthermore, we observed distinct effects of elevated CO2 on biomass and size structure of the entire plankton community. Notably, the biomass of copepods, dominated by Pseudocalanus acuspes, displayed a tendency towards elevated biomass by up to 30–40% under simulated ocean acidification. This effect was significant for certain copepod size classes and was most likely driven by CO2-stimulated responses of primary producers and a complex interplay of trophic interactions that allowed this CO2 effect to propagate up the food web. Such OA-induced shifts in plankton community structure could have far-reaching consequences for food-web interactions, biomass transfer to higher trophic levels and biogeochemical cycling of marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Influence of ocean acidification on plankton community structure during a winter-to-summer succession: An imaging approach indicates that copepods can benefit from elevated CO2 via indirect food web effects’

The impact of electrogenic sulfur oxidation on the biogeochemistry of coastal sediments: A field study

Electro-active sediments distinguish themselves from other sedimentary environments by the presence of microbially induced electrical currents in the surface layer of the sediment. The electron transport is generated by metabolic activity of long filamentous cable bacteria, in a process referred to as electrogenic sulfur oxidation (e-SOx). Laboratory experiments have shown that e-SOx exerts a large impact on the sediment geochemistry, but its influence on the in situ geochemistry of marine sediments has not been previously investigated. Here, we document the biogeochemical cycling associated with e-SOx in a cohesive coastal sediment in the North Sea (Station 130, Belgian Coastal Zone) during three campaigns (January, March and May 2014). Fluorescence in situ hybridization showed that cable bacteria were present in high densities throughout the sampling period, and that filaments penetrated up to 7 cm deep in the sediment, which is substantially deeper than previously recorded. High resolution microsensor profiling (pH, H2S and O2) revealed the typical geochemical fingerprint of e-SOx, with a wide separation (up to 4.8 cm) between the depth of oxygen penetration and the depth of sulfide appearance. The metabolic activity of cable bacteria induced a current density of 25–32 mA m−2 and created an electrical field of 12–17 mV m−1 in the upper centimeters of the sediment. This electrical field created an ionic drift, which strongly affected the depth profiles and fluxes of major cations (Ca2+, Fe2+) and anions (SO42−) in the pore water. The strong acidification of the pore water at depth resulted in the dissolution of calcium carbonates and iron sulfides, thus leading to a strong accumulation of iron, calcium and manganese in the pore water. While sulfate accumulated in the upper centimeters, no significant effect of e-SOx was found on ammonium, phosphate and silicate depth profiles. Overall, our results demonstrate that cable bacteria can strongly modulate the sedimentary biogeochemical cycling under in situ conditions.

Continue reading ‘The impact of electrogenic sulfur oxidation on the biogeochemistry of coastal sediments: A field study’

Stress physiology and weapon integrity of intertidal mantis shrimp under future ocean conditions

Calcified marine organisms typically experience increased oxidative stress and changes in mineralization in response to ocean acidification and warming conditions. These effects could hinder the potency of animal weapons, such as the mantis shrimp’s raptorial appendage. The mechanical properties of this calcified weapon enable extremely powerful punches to be delivered to prey and aggressors. We examined oxidative stress and exoskeleton structure, mineral content, and mechanical properties of the raptorial appendage and the carapace under long-term ocean acidification and warming conditions. The predatory appendage had significantly higher % Mg under ocean acidification conditions, while oxidative stress levels as well as the % Ca and mechanical properties of the appendage remained unchanged. Thus, mantis shrimp tolerate expanded ranges of pH and temperature without experiencing oxidative stress or functional changes to their weapons. Our findings suggest that these powerful predators will not be hindered under future ocean conditions.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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