Posts Tagged 'North Pacific'

Springtime spatial distributions of biogenic sulfur compounds in the Yangtze river estuary and their responses to seawater acidification and dust

The spatial distributions of dimethylsulfide (DMS), dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), and dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) were investigated in the Yangtze River Estuary from 9 to 23 March, 2018. The average concentrations of DMS, dissolved DMSP (DMSPd), particulate DMSP (DMSPp), dissolved DMSO (DMSOd) and particulate DMSO (DMSOp) were 3.00 ± 2.53, 1.75 ± 1.08, 10.89 ± 14.28, 9.80 ± 7.79, and 9.51 ± 8.90 nmol L‐1, respectively. The high DMS and DMSP concentrations occurred mainly in the open sea, exhibiting distribution patterns similar to chlorophyll a (Chl‐a). Due to the release of resuspended sediments, elevated DMSO concentrations were observed in the bottom waters of some stations. The three sulfur compounds were positively correlated with Chl‐a (p < 0.05), suggesting that phytoplankton played an essential role in the production of sulfur compounds. Comparisons with previous research showed that the concentrations of DMS, DMSP, and DMSOp exhibited clear seasonal variability. The average sea‐to‐air flux of DMS was 8.19 ± 12.94 μmol m‐2 d‐1 in the study area, indicating that the estuary and continental shelf sea were significant contributors to the global sulfur cycle. Ship‐based incubation experiments showed that lower pH inhibited the production of the three biogenic sulfur compounds, while the addition of dust promoted their release. Therefore, in the future, the inhibitory effect of seawater acidification on the production of phytoplankton and sulfur compounds might be offset, to some degree, by the input of nutrient‐rich dust.

Continue reading ‘Springtime spatial distributions of biogenic sulfur compounds in the Yangtze river estuary and their responses to seawater acidification and dust’

Feedback mechanisms stabilise degraded turf algal systems at a CO2 seep site

Human activities are rapidly changing the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems. Large-scale replacement of kelp forests and coral reefs with turf algal mats is resulting in homogenous habitats that have less ecological and human value. Ocean acidification has strong potential to substantially favour turf algae growth, which led us to examine the mechanisms that stabilise turf algal states. Here we show that ocean acidification promotes turf algae over corals and macroalgae, mediating new habitat conditions that create stabilising feedback loops (altered physicochemical environment and microbial community, and an inhibition of recruitment) capable of locking turf systems in place. Such feedbacks help explain why degraded coastal habitats persist after being initially pushed past the tipping point by global and local anthropogenic stressors. An understanding of the mechanisms that stabilise degraded coastal habitats can be incorporated into adaptive management to better protect the contribution of coastal systems to human wellbeing.

Continue reading ‘Feedback mechanisms stabilise degraded turf algal systems at a CO2 seep site’

Transgenerational effects on the coral Pocillopora damicornis microbiome under ocean acidification

Reef-building corals are inhabited by functionally diverse microorganisms which play important roles in coral health and persistence in the Anthropocene. However, our understanding of the complex associations within coral holobionts is largely limited, particularly transgenerational exposure to environmental stress, like ocean acidification. Here we investigated the microbiome development of an ecologically important coral Pocillopora damicornis following transgenerational exposure to moderate and high pCO2 (partial pressure of CO2) levels, using amplicon sequencing and analysis. Our results showed that the Symbiodiniaceae community structures in adult and juvenile had similar patterns, all of which were dominated by Durusdinium spp., previously known as clade D. Conversely, prokaryotic communities varied between adults and juveniles, possibly driven by the effect of host development. Surprisingly, there were no significant changes in both Symbiodiniaceae and prokaryotic communities with different pCO2 treatments, which was independent of the life history stage. This study shows that ocean acidification has no significant effect on P. damicornis microbiome, and warrants further research to test whether transgenerational acclimation exists in coral holobiont to projected future climate change.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational effects on the coral Pocillopora damicornis microbiome under ocean acidification’

Gene expression responses of larval gopher (Sebastes carnatus) and blue (S. mystinus) rockfish to ocean acidification and hypoxia

Global climate change is driving shifts in ocean chemistry, which combined with intensification of coastal upwelling, reduces ocean pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) content in the nearshore habitats of the California Current System. Physiological plasticity, within and across generations, might be especially important for long-lived, late-to-mature species, like rockfishes (genus Sebastes), that may be unable to keep pace with climate change via genetic adaptation. Rockfishes exhibit matrotrophic viviparity and may be able to buffer their offspring from environmental stress through early developmental exposure or transgenerational plasticity (non-genetic inheritance of phenotypes). In this study, mature female gopher (S. carnatus) and blue (S. mystinus) rockfish were pre-exposed to one of four treatments; 1) control conditions, 2) low pH, 3) low DO, or 4) combined low pH/DO stressors during embryonic growth (i.e. fertilization and gestation), followed by a 5-day larval exposure after birth in either the same or a different treatment received by mothers. I used RNA sequencing to determine how the maternal environment affected larval rockfish gene expression (GE) at birth, after the 5-day larval exposure in either the same maternal treatment or a novel pH/DO environment, and between larvae sampled at birth and after the 5-day larval exposure within each treatment. For both species, I found that the maternal exposure drove larval GE patterns regardless of sampling time point or treatment. Furthermore, the maternal environment continued to strongly influence larval GE for at least the first five days after birth. In gopher rockfish, larvae differentially expressed fewer genes at birth between the control and hypoxic groups than larvae that gestated in and remained in the same treatment and were sampled after the 5-day larval exposure. Gene functions also shifted; at day 5, there was an increase in differentially expressed genes that were related to metabolic pathways, implying that the larvae in the hypoxic treatment are responding to the stressor. In both species, I found that larvae which experienced a pH and/or hypoxic stressor during the maternal exposure had fewer differentially expressed genes across time compared to larvae that experienced control conditions. This pattern remained consistent, even if the larvae were placed into control conditions for the 5-day larval exposure, indicating that exposure to low pH/DO stressors might cause a delay in development. These data suggest that rockfish may not be able to buffer their offspring from environmental stressors, highlighting the important role of the maternal environment during gestation. Between the two species, however, blue rockfish may in fact fare better in future conditions as their reproductive season occurs before the onset of strong spring upwelling, when more hypoxic and low pH water intrudes the nearshore. However, if future climate models are correct, shifts in the timing and intensity of upwelling season may overlap with the reproductive season in blue rockfish. Elucidating the critical role of the maternal environment on offspring physiology can help us better understand how economically and ecologically important species will fare in the face of climate change.

Continue reading ‘Gene expression responses of larval gopher (Sebastes carnatus) and blue (S. mystinus) rockfish to ocean acidification and hypoxia’

Surface CO2 system dynamics in the Gulf of Anadyr during the open water season


  • Drivers and mechanisms responsible for the spatial variations in surface seawater CO2 system and associated air–sea CO2 fluxes for the Gulf of Anadyr are identified.
  • The decisive impact of the biological factor on the spatial variability of pCO2 in the surface waters during open water season is shown.
  • Calculated CO2 fluxes indicate the region is a large sink for atmospheric CO2 during open water season.


The Gulf of Anadyr (GA), one of the largest and most poorly investigated gulfs of the Bering Sea, is an important part of the Pacific Arctic. Drivers and mechanisms responsible for the spatial variations in surface seawater CO2 system parameters and associated air–sea CO2 fluxes were investigated during three oceanographic cruises conducted in the GA during the open water season of 1992, 2002, and 2011. It was shown that the surface waters of the GA were moderate to strong sinks for atmospheric CO2 during this season: mean air-sea CO2 fluxes for the investigated areas of the GA, for the three cruises, were -31, -15, and -30 mmol CO2 m−2 d−1, respectively. The summer air-sea CO2 flux was attributed to intensive phytoplankton bloom, and fall CO2 uptake coincided with a period of strong winds and seasonal enhanced primary production. The surface waters of the GA were supersaturated with respect to aragonite during the investigated period. Anadyr Strait, a region of high hydrodynamic activity, was the only area where CO2 efflux was observed. Surface waters of the strait were supersaturated with respect to CO2 and in quasi-equilibrium with respect to aragonite. We found that during the late summer/fall season, the Anadyr Current exported a well-mixed, relatively cold, salty, nutrient- and CO2-rich water through the western Anadyr Strait into the Chirikov Basin. Our research highlights the need for mesoscale studies of the western Bering Sea to produce the most accurate assessment of the regional CO2 budget.

Continue reading ‘Surface CO2 system dynamics in the Gulf of Anadyr during the open water season’

Seaweed farms provide refugia from ocean acidification

Seaweed farming has been proposed as a strategy for adaptation to ocean acidification, but evidence is largely lacking. Changes of pH and carbon system parameters in surface waters of three seaweed farms along a latitudinal range in China were compared, on the weeks preceding harvesting, with those of the surrounding seawaters. Results confirmed that seaweed farming is efficient in buffering acidification, with Saccharina japonica showing the highest capacity of 0.10 pH increase within the aquaculture area, followed by Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis (ΔpH = 0.04) and Porphyra haitanensis (ΔpH = 0.03). The ranges of pH variability within seaweed farms spanned 0.14-0.30 unit during the monitoring, showing intense fluctuations which may also help marine organisms adapt to enhanced pH temporal variations in the future ocean. Deficit in pCO2 in waters in seaweed farms relative to control waters averaged 58.7 ± 15.9 μatm, ranging from 27.3 to 113.9 μatm across farms. However, ΔpH did not significantly differ between day and night. Dissolved oxygen and Ωarag were also elevated in surface waters at all seaweed farms, which are benefit for the survival of calcifying organisms. Seaweed farming, which unlike natural seaweed forests, is scalable and is not dependent on suitable substrate or light availability, could serve as a low-cost adaptation strategy to ocean acidification and deoxygenation and provide important refugia from ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Seaweed farms provide refugia from ocean acidification’

Inorganic carbon and alkalinity biogeochemistry and fluxes in an intertidal beach aquifer: implications for ocean acidification


  • Presented the TAlk and DIC dynamics in intertidal aquifer over both tidal and seasonal timescale.
  • Make clear the contribution of local production to the SGD-derived DIC and TAlk fluxes to the ocean.
  • Differentiate different biogeochemical reaction responsible to the production of TAlk.
  • Specify the influences of SGD on ocean acidification.


While submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is well known to release large amounts of dissolved nutrients and organic carbon into the ocean, the contribution of SGD to the marine inorganic carbon cycle is poorly understood. Here, the biogeochemistry of inorganic carbon in an intertidal aquifer and related SGD-derived fluxes into Tolo Harbor, Hong Kong was investigated over tidal and seasonal time scales. The results reveal production of total alkalinity (TAlk) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in the intertidal aquifer over the entire salinity range. The locally produced TAlk and DIC in the intertidal aquifer contributes to >50% of the TAlk and DIC discharged with SGD to the ocean. The distribution of TAlk and DIC in the transition (mangrove) and high salinity (bare beach) zones were different due to the distinct hydrogeological and geochemical conditions. In the organic-rich mangrove zone, TAlk and DIC production was driven by biotic processes such as aerobic respiration, denitrification, and sulfate reduction. In the organic-poor bare beach zone, TAlk and DIC production was likely driven by abiotic processes such as precipitation/dissolution of carbonate minerals. Temperature, pH, physical mixing, and iron cycling in the intertidal aquifer also considerably influenced the carbonate biogeochemistry. TAlk inventory in the intertidal aquifer was seasonally stable but TAlk discharged with SGD was ∼60% greater in the wet season than in the dry season (73.3 vs. 45.6 mol d-1 per m coastline). The DIC inventory in the intertidal aquifer and DIC discharged with SGD were ∼24% and 95% higher, respectively, in the wet season than dry season. Overall, through analyzing TAlk:DIC ratios and related fluxes, SGD is thought to reduce the CO2 buffering capacity of the receiving ocean, and act as a local driver of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Inorganic carbon and alkalinity biogeochemistry and fluxes in an intertidal beach aquifer: implications for ocean acidification’

Unexpected high abundance of aragonite-forming Nanipora (Octocorallia: Helioporacea) at an acidified volcanic reef in southern Japan

Nanipora Miyazaki & Reimer, 2015 is a recently discovered genus of aragonite-skeleton producing octocorals closely related to the blue coral genus Heliopora de Blainville, 1830. Since its discovery, Nanipora has been reported from coral reefs in Okinawa, Japan, and Thailand, and from seagrass beds in the northern South China Sea. However, it remains little known and studied. Here, we report on the unexpected discovery of an abundance of Nanipora colonies in shallow waters less than 2-m deep around a CO2 vent from the uninhabited volcanic island of Iwotorishima, Okinawa, in southern Japan. Nanipora colonies were found covering both coral rubble and hard substrates, alongside a few soft coral and zoantharian species. Polyps were pale white in color with none brown or darker in coloration as in some recent reports. As the original description of Nkamurai from Zamami Island in Okinawa describes the species as azooxanthellate, as the current Iwotorishima specimens also appear to be, and recently reported specimens from Thailand, Dongsha Atoll, and Yaeyama are zooxanthellate, it may be that there are more than one Nanipora species; the type species Nkamurai that is also likely at Iwotorishima, and a zooxanthellate species that constitutes the other records. Although Nanipora is not well studied, its presence at this volcanic CO2 seep suggests it has the ability to survive under unique and extreme environmental conditions, rendering it as a potentially important subject of study in the face of increasing ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Unexpected high abundance of aragonite-forming Nanipora (Octocorallia: Helioporacea) at an acidified volcanic reef in southern Japan’

Calcification does not necessarily protect articulated coralline algae from urchin grazing

Calcification is widely thought to be an adaptation that reduces the impact of herbivory. Recent work has shown that ocean acidification may negatively impact calcification of marine organisms, including coralline red algae, which could theoretically increase the susceptibility of corallines to benthic grazers. By manipulating calcium carbonate content of three articulated coralline algal species, we demonstrated that calcification has a variable and species-specific effect on urchin grazing. For two species, Corallina vancouveriensis and Corallina officinalis var. chilensis, reductions in calcium carbonate content did not cause a significant increase in urchin grazing, raising questions about the benefit of calcification in these species. For Calliarthron tuberculosum, reduced calcium carbonate content caused an increase in urchin grazing rates but only after calcium carbonate had been reduced by more than 15%, suggesting that only dramatic shifts in calcification would make C. tuberculosum more susceptible to urchin grazing. We hypothesize that the herbivory-reducing benefits of calcification likely depend upon coralline thallus morphology. Negative impacts of ocean acidification on calcification in coralline algae may not necessarily increase herbivory rates.

Continue reading ‘Calcification does not necessarily protect articulated coralline algae from urchin grazing’

Seasonality and biological forcing modify the diel frequency of nearshore pH extremes in a subarctic Alaskan estuary

Acidification in nearshore waters is influenced by a multitude of drivers that shape the dynamics of pH and carbonate chemistry variability on diurnal, seasonal, and yearly time scales. Monitoring efforts aimed at characterizing high temporal variability are lacking in many nearshore systems, particularly in high‐latitude regions such as Alaska. To rectify this, a nearshore acidification sensor array was established in the Fall of 2017 within Kachemak Bay, Alaska. Presented here are the results from the first year of these deployments, and the first record of a year‐long high‐frequency pH time series for nearshore Alaska. SeaFET™ pH and O2 sensors deployed in Jakolof Bay and Bear Cove reveal a seasonally dynamic system in which nearshore waters in these two enclosed bays transition to being predominantly net autotrophic systems for a period of 60‐plus days. High rates and durations of primary production in late spring and early summer create high pH conditions and extreme variability. Observed pH values in Jakolof Bay and Bear Cove tracked hourly rates of change on the order of 0.18 and 0.10 units, respectively. In Jakolof Bay nondirectional variability within a 12‐h period was > 1 pH unit, exposing organisms to unstable, nonstatic pH conditions on tidal and diurnal cycles. Consistent frequency patterns detailing the magnitude of pH variability was correlated to tidal and O2 signatures, elucidating the dynamics and drivers of pH variability. This first year of observations is the first step in quantifying the anthropogenic contribution to acidification for Kachemak Bay in the forthcoming years.

Continue reading ‘Seasonality and biological forcing modify the diel frequency of nearshore pH extremes in a subarctic Alaskan estuary’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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