Posts Tagged 'ocean acidification'

Spatiotemporal variability and long-term trends of ocean acidification in the California Current System (update)

Due to seasonal upwelling, the upper ocean waters of the California Current System (CCS) have a naturally low pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag), making this region particularly prone to the effects of ocean acidification. Here, we use the Regional Oceanic Modeling System (ROMS) to conduct preindustrial and transient (1995–2050) simulations of ocean biogeochemistry in the CCS. The transient simulations were forced with increasing atmospheric pCO2 and increasing oceanic dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations at the lateral boundaries, as projected by the NCAR CSM 1.4 model for the IPCC SRES A2 scenario. Our results show a large seasonal variability in pH (range of ~ 0.14) and Ωarag (~ 0.2) for the nearshore areas (50 km from shore). This variability is created by the interplay of physical and biogeochemical processes. Despite this large variability, we find that present-day pH and Ωarag have already moved outside of their simulated preindustrial variability envelopes (defined by ±1 temporal standard deviation) due to the rapidly increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2. The nearshore surface pH of the northern and central CCS are simulated to move outside of their present-day variability envelopes by the mid-2040s and late 2030s, respectively. This transition may occur even earlier for nearshore surface Ωarag, which is projected to depart from its present-day variability envelope by the early- to mid-2030s. The aragonite saturation horizon of the central CCS is projected to shoal into the upper 75 m within the next 25 yr, causing near-permanent undersaturation in subsurface waters. Due to the model’s overestimation of Ωarag, this transition may occur even earlier than simulated by the model. Overall, our study shows that the CCS joins the Arctic and Southern oceans as one of only a few known ocean regions presently approaching the dual threshold of widespread and near-permanent undersaturation with respect to aragonite and a departure from its variability envelope. In these regions, organisms may be forced to rapidly adjust to conditions that are both inherently chemically challenging and also substantially different from past conditions.

Continue reading ‘Spatiotemporal variability and long-term trends of ocean acidification in the California Current System (update)’

Temporal biomass dynamics of an Arctic plankton bloom in response to increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (update)

Ocean acidification and carbonation, driven by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), have been shown to affect a variety of marine organisms and are likely to change ecosystem functioning. High latitudes, especially the Arctic, will be the first to encounter profound changes in carbonate chemistry speciation at a large scale, namely the under-saturation of surface waters with respect to aragonite, a calcium carbonate polymorph produced by several organisms in this region. During a CO2 perturbation study in Kongsfjorden on the west coast of Spitsbergen (Norway), in the framework of the EU-funded project EPOCA, the temporal dynamics of a plankton bloom was followed in nine mesocosms, manipulated for CO2 levels ranging initially from about 185 to 1420 μatm. Dissolved inorganic nutrients were added halfway through the experiment. Autotrophic biomass, as identified by chlorophyll a standing stocks (Chl a), peaked three times in all mesocosms. However, while absolute Chl a concentrations were similar in all mesocosms during the first phase of the experiment, higher autotrophic biomass was measured as high in comparison to low CO2 during the second phase, right after dissolved inorganic nutrient addition. This trend then reversed in the third phase. There were several statistically significant CO2 effects on a variety of parameters measured in certain phases, such as nutrient utilization, standing stocks of particulate organic matter, and phytoplankton species composition. Interestingly, CO2 effects developed slowly but steadily, becoming more and more statistically significant with time. The observed CO2-related shifts in nutrient flow into different phytoplankton groups (mainly dinoflagellates, prasinophytes and haptophytes) could have consequences for future organic matter flow to higher trophic levels and export production, with consequences for ecosystem productivity and atmospheric CO2.

Continue reading ‘Temporal biomass dynamics of an Arctic plankton bloom in response to increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (update)’

Influence of CO2 and nitrogen limitation on the coccolith volume of Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyta) (update)

Coccolithophores, a key phytoplankton group, are one of the most studied organisms regarding their physiological response to ocean acidification/carbonation. The biogenic production of calcareous coccoliths has made coccolithophores a promising group for paleoceanographic research aiming to reconstruct past environmental conditions. Recently, geochemical and morphological analyses of fossil coccoliths have gained increased interest in regard to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. The cosmopolitan coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi (Lohm.) Hay and Mohler was cultured over a range of pCO2 levels in controlled laboratory experiments under nutrient replete and nitrogen limited conditions. Measurements of photosynthesis and calcification revealed, as previously published, an increase in particulate organic carbon production and a moderate decrease in calcification from ambient to elevated pCO2. The enhancement in particulate organic carbon production was accompanied by an increase in cell diameter. Changes in coccolith volume were best correlated with the coccosphere/cell diameter and no significant correlation was found between the coccolith volume and the particulate inorganic carbon production. The conducted experiments revealed that the coccolith volume of E. huxleyi is variable with aquatic CO2 concentration but its sensitivity is rather small in comparison with its sensitivity to nitrogen limitation. Comparing coccolith morphological and geometrical parameters like volume, mass and size to physiological parameters under controlled laboratory conditions is an important step to understand variations in fossil coccolith geometry.

Continue reading ‘Influence of CO2 and nitrogen limitation on the coccolith volume of Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyta) (update)’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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