Posts Tagged 'regionalmodeling'

Dissolved inorganic carbon export from rivers of Great Britain: spatial distribution and potential catchment-scale controls


  • A survey of DIC was carried out across 41 rivers in Great Britain.
  • Results were examined in relation to land cover and natural gradients across Great Britain.
  • Estimated average yield of DIC from the survey catchments to the sea was 8.13 t ha−1 yr−1.
  • Free CO2 concentrations were strongly linked to catchment macro-nutrient status.
  • Free CO2 yield at was estimated to be 0.56 t C km2 yr−1.


Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) fluxes from the land to ocean have been quantified for many rivers globally. However, CO2 fluxes to the atmosphere from inland waters are quantitatively significant components of the global carbon cycle that are currently poorly constrained. Understanding, the relative contributions of natural and human-impacted processes on the DIC cycle within catchments may provide a basis for developing improved management strategies to mitigate free CO2 concentrations in rivers and subsequent evasion to the atmosphere. Here, a large, internally consistent dataset collected from 41 catchments across Great Britain (GB), accounting for ∼36% of land area (∼83,997 km2) and representative of national land cover, was used to investigate catchment controls on riverine dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), bicarbonate (HCO3) and free CO2 concentrations, fluxes to the coastal sea and annual yields per unit area of catchment. Estimated DIC flux to sea for the survey catchments was 647 kt DIC yr−1 which represented 69% of the total dissolved carbon flux from these catchments. Generally, those catchments with large proportions of carbonate and sedimentary sandstone were found to deliver greater DIC and HCO3 to the ocean. The calculated mean free CO2 yield for survey catchments (i.e. potential CO2 emission to the atmosphere) was 0.56 t C km−2 yr−1. Regression models demonstrated that whilst river DIC (R2 = 0.77) and HCO3 (R2 = 0.77) concentrations are largely explained by the geology of the landmass, along with a negative correlation to annual precipitation, free CO2 concentrations were strongly linked to catchment macronutrient status. Overall, DIC dominates dissolved C inputs to coastal waters, meaning that estuarine carbon dynamics are sensitive to underlying geology and therefore are likely to be reasonably constant. In contrast, potential losses of carbon to the atmosphere via dissolved CO2, which likely constitute a significant fraction of net terrestrial ecosystem production and hence the national carbon budget, may be amenable to greater direct management via altering patterns of land use.

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Seasonal dynamics and annual budget of dissolved inorganic carbon in the northwestern Mediterranean deep convection region

Deep convection plays a key role in the circulation, thermodynamics and biogeochemical cycles in the Mediterranean Sea, considered as a hotspot of biodiversity and climate change. In the framework of the DEWEX (Dense Water Experiment) project, the seasonal cycle and annual budget of dissolved inorganic carbon in the deep convection area of the northwestern Mediterranean Sea are investigated over the period September 2012–September 2013, using a 3-dimensional coupled physical-biogeochemical-chemical modeling approach. We estimate that the northwestern Mediterranean Sea deep convection region was a moderate sink of CO2 for the atmosphere over the study period. The model results show the reduction of CO2 uptake during deep convection, and its increase during the abrupt spring phytoplankton bloom following the deep convection events. We highlight the dominant role of both biological and physical flows in the annual dissolved inorganic carbon budget. The upper layer of the northwestern deep convection region gained dissolved inorganic carbon through vertical physical supplies and, to a lesser extent, air-sea flux, and lost dissolved inorganic carbon through lateral transport and biological fluxes. The region, covering 2.5 % of the Mediterranean, acted as a source of dissolved inorganic carbon for the surface and intermediate water masses of the western and southern Western Mediterranean Sea and could contribute up to 10 and 20 % to the CO2 exchanges with the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

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Neural networks and the seawater CO2 system. From the global ocean to the Ría de Vigo

This doctoral dissertation is structured in six chapters and two appendices. From this point the reader is warned about the independent numbering in each chapter, both for sections and subsections as well as for figures and tables, that is, the numbering restarts at the beginning of each chapter. Chapter I is divided into two parts. On the one hand, the topic of the doctoral dissertation is introduced in a general way to put in context the different research studies that are part of it. This introduction presents the key concepts on climate change and ocean acidification necessary to approach the reading of the following chapters. On the other hand, the main and secondary objectives that are addressed in the next chapters are detailed. Chapter II develops the construction of a global and seasonal climatology of total alkalinity. The chapter details for the first time in the thesis the use of neural networks. This methodology is used throughout the manuscript, highlighting the peculiarities associated with each study in each of the chapters where it is applied. This chapter has been published in Earth System Science Data: Chapter III describes the development of a total dissolved inorganic carbon climatology. In general terms, a methodology similar to that of chapter II is used, although with certain relevant nuances such as the inclusion of a new database. In this chapter, a pCO2 climatology is also generated in a secondary way to evaluate the consistency between the two climatologies previously generated in this thesis. This chapter has been published in Earth System Science Data:

Chapter IV completely changes the scale of the previous two chapters and focuses on the study of sweater CO2 chemistry system on a regional scale. Specifically, neural networks are used to generate time series of total alkalinity and pH at various locations in the Ría de Vigo. From the time series, the magnitude of seasonal variability and interannual trends for these variables are analyzed. This chapter has been published in Biogeosciences Discussions:, 2021 Chapter V contains an analysis of the variability of the hydrogen ion concentration and the aragonite saturation state in the Ría de Vigo. This analysis is carried out from the time series of these variables that are constructed thanks to the study developed in chapter IV. Chapters II to V are structured in the same way as a typical scientific article, thus containing an introduction, methodology, results, discussion and conclusions about each study. Finally, chapter VI summarizes the main conclusions derived from the complete work shown through this doctoral thesis. It is worth noting the inclusion of two appendices in the final part of the thesis. Appendix I details the meaning of each of the acronyms, abbreviations and symbols used throughout the manuscript. Appendix II contains a summary of the doctoral dissertation in Spanish

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Excess pCO2 and carbonate system geochemistry in surface seawater of the exclusive economic zone of Qatar (Arabian Gulf)


  • pCO2 in surface seawater is supersaturated with respect to the atmosphere
  • pCO2 increases due to increases in T and S
  • Calcification, a source for CO2, occurs in corals not in the water column
  • The main sink for CO2 is loss by gas exchange
  • Net primary production is a minor control on pCO2


Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA) were sampled in December 2018 and May 2019 in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Qatar in the Arabian Gulf. pCO2, pH and CO32− were calculated from DIC and TA. TA, DIC and salinity increase in the Gulf due to evaporation after entering through the Strait of Hormuz. Temperature also increases. The pCO2 in surface seawater averaged 458 ± 62 which was higher than the atmospheric value of 412 ppm. Hence, the Gulf was a source of CO2 to the atmosphere. pCO2 in seawater is controlled by TA relative to DIC as well as temperature and salinity. A hypothetical model calculation was used to estimate how much pCO2 could increase in surface seawater due to various processes after entering through the Strait of Hormuz. Increases in T and S, in the absence of biogeochemical processes, would increase pCO2 to 537 μatm, more than enough to explain the high pCO2 observed. CO2 is lost from the Gulf due to gas exchange, decreasing DIC, and reducing pCO2 to 464 μatm, similar to that observed. The impact of biological processes depends on the process: calcification increases pCO2 while net primary production decreases pCO2. Salinity-normalized (to S = 40) total alkalinity (NTA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (NDIC) in surface seawater decrease as waters flow north from Hormuz. The slope suggests that removal of C as CaCO3, organic matter (CH2O) or gas exchange (FCO2) is occurring with a ratio of ΔCaCO3/(ΔCH2O or FCO2) = 1:2.86. The tracer Alk*, defined as the deviation of potential alkalinity (AP) (where AP = TA + 1.26 [NO3]) from conservative potential alkalinity ((ApC), (ApC = S Ap′S′ where A’P and S′ are mean values for the whole surface ocean) has values primarily determined by CaCO3 precipitation and dissolution. Its values in the Gulf ranged from −50 to −310 μmol kg−1 implying CaCO3 precipitation. The average value of ΔAlk*, the difference in Alk* between specific locations in the Qatari EEZ and the surface water entering through the Strait of Hormuz, was −130 μmol kg−1 which corresponded to a calcification of 65 μmol kg−1. Our model calculations indicate that this would increase pCO2 to 577 μatm. Carbonate forming plankton have not been observed in the water column suggesting that calcification occurs in corals, even though they have been severely damaged by past bleaching events. The amount of DIC removed by net primary production is small, consistent with an oligotrophic food web dominated by remineralization. It appears that the role of biological production in the water column for the control of pCO2 is very small. The high observed pCO2 reflects a balance between sources due to the impact of increasing T and S on the carbonate system equilibrium constants and net calcification and sinks due to CO2 loss due to gas exchange and net primary production in surface seawater after it enters the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz.

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A numerical reassessment of the Gulf of Mexico carbon system in connection with the Mississippi River and global ocean

Coupled physical–biogeochemical models can fill the spatial and temporal gap in ocean carbon observations. Challenges of applying a coupled physical–biogeochemical model in the regional ocean include the reasonable prescription of carbon model boundary conditions, lack of in situ observations, and the oversimplification of certain biogeochemical processes. In this study, we applied a coupled physical–biogeochemical model (Regional Ocean Modelling System, ROMS) to the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and achieved an unprecedented 20-year high-resolution (5 km, 1/22°) hindcast covering the period of 2000 to 2019. The biogeochemical model incorporated the dynamics of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) pools and the formation and dissolution of carbonate minerals. The biogeochemical boundaries were interpolated from NCAR’s CESM2-WACCM-FV2 solution after evaluating the performance of 17 GCMs in the GoM waters. Model outputs included carbon system variables of wide interest, such as pCO2, pH, aragonite saturation state (ΩArag), calcite saturation state (ΩCalc), CO2 air–sea flux, and carbon burial rate. The model’s robustness is evaluated via extensive model–data comparison against buoys, remote-sensing-based machine learning (ML) products, and ship-based measurements. A reassessment of air–sea CO2 flux with previous modeling and observational studies gives us confidence that our model provides a robust and updated CO2 flux estimation, and NGoM is a stronger carbon sink than previously reported. Model results reveal that the GoM water has been experiencing a ∼ 0.0016 yr−1 decrease in surface pH over the past 2 decades, accompanied by a ∼ 1.66 µatm yr−1 increase in sea surface pCO2. The air–sea CO2 exchange estimation confirms in accordance with several previous models and ocean surface pCO2 observations that the river-dominated northern GoM (NGoM) is a substantial carbon sink, and the open GoM is a carbon source during summer and a carbon sink for the rest of the year. Sensitivity experiments are conducted to evaluate the impacts of river inputs and the global ocean via model boundaries. The NGoM carbon system is directly modified by the enormous carbon inputs (∼ 15.5 Tg C yr−1 DIC and ∼ 2.3 Tg C yr−1 DOC) from the Mississippi–Atchafalaya River System (MARS). Additionally, nutrient-stimulated biological activities create a ∼ 105 times higher particulate organic matter burial rate in NGoM sediment than in the case without river-delivered nutrients. The carbon system condition of the open ocean is driven by inputs from the Caribbean Sea via the Yucatan Channel and is affected more by thermal effects than biological factors.

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Arctic Ocean annual high in pCO2 could shift from winter to summer

Long-term stress on marine organisms from ocean acidification will differ between seasons. As atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) increases, so do seasonal variations of ocean CO2 partial pressure (pCO2), causing summer and winter long-term trends to diverge1,2,3,4,5. Trends may be further influenced by an unexplored factor—changes in the seasonal timing of pCO2. In Arctic Ocean surface waters, the observed timing is typified by a winter high and summer low6 because biological effects dominate thermal effects. Here we show that 27 Earth system models simulate similar timing under historical forcing but generally project that the summer low, relative to the annual mean, eventually becomes a high across much of the Arctic Ocean under mid-to-high-level CO2 emissions scenarios. Often the greater increase in summer pCO2, although gradual, abruptly inverses the chronological order of the annual high and low, a phenomenon not previously seen in climate-related variables. The main cause is the large summer sea surface warming7 from earlier retreat of seasonal sea ice8. Warming and changes in other drivers enhance this century’s increase in extreme summer pCO2 by 29 ± 9 per cent compared with no change in driver seasonalities. Thus the timing change worsens summer ocean acidification, which in turn may lower the tolerance of endemic marine organisms to increasing summer temperatures.

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Role of oceanic abiotic carbonate precipitation in future atmospheric CO2 regulation

The oceans play a major role in the earth’s climate by regulating atmospheric CO2. While oceanic primary productivity and organic carbon burial sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere, precipitation of CaCO3 in the sea returns CO2 to the atmosphere. Abiotic CaCO3 precipitation in the form of aragonite is potentially an important feedback mechanism for the global carbon cycle, but this process has not been fully quantified. In a sediment-trap study conducted in the southeastern Mediterranean Sea, one of the fastest warming and most oligotrophic regions in the ocean, we quantify for the first time the flux of inorganic aragonite in the water column. We show that this process is kinetically induced by the warming of surface water and prolonged stratification resulting in a high aragonite saturation state (ΩAr ≥ 4). Based on these relations, we estimate that abiotic aragonite calcification may account for 15 ± 3% of the previously reported CO2 efflux from the sea surface to the atmosphere in the southeastern Mediterranean. Modelled predictions of sea surface temperature and ΩAr suggest that this process may weaken in the future ocean, resulting in increased alkalinity and buffering capacity of atmospheric CO2.

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Rates of future climate change in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea: implications for coral reef ecosystems

Rising temperatures and ocean acidification due to anthropogenic climate change pose ominous threats to coral reef ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and the western Caribbean Sea. Unfortunately, the once structurally complex coral reefs in the GoM and Caribbean have dramatically declined since the 1970s; relatively few coral reefs still exhibit a mean live coral cover of > 10%. Additional work is needed to characterize future climate stressors on corals reefs in the GoM and the Caribbean Sea. Here, we use climate model simulations spanning the period of 2015-2100 to partition and assess the individual impacts of climate stressors on corals in the GoM and the western Caribbean Sea. We use a top-down modeling framework to diagnose future projected changes in thermal stress and ocean acidification and discuss its implications for coral reef ecosystems. We find that ocean temperatures increase by 2-3°C over the 21st century, and surpass reported regional bleaching thresholds by mid-century. Whereas ocean acidification occurs, the rate and magnitude of temperature changes outpace and outweigh the impacts of changes in aragonite saturation state. A framework for quantifying and communicating future risks in the GoM and Caribbean using reef risk projection maps is discussed. Without substantial mitigation efforts, the combined impact of increasing ocean temperatures and acidification are likely to stress most existing corals in the GoM and the Caribbean, with widespread economic and ecological consequences.

Plain Language Summary

Coral reefs are among the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth, and the coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and the Caribbean Sea are no exception. In this region, coral reefs support vibrant recreation, tourism, and fishing industries. However, climate change, including rising temperatures and ocean acidification, threaten the future health of corals. To asses climate-change related risks to coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, this study uses climate model simulations spanning 2015-2100 to understand future changes in temperature and ocean acidification. Although many regions of the Gulf of Mexico and the western Caribbean Sea will cross the critical coral reef bleaching thresholds by mid-century, we hope that this work will inform and streamline mitigation efforts to protect vulnerable coral reef ecosystems and the valuable benefits and resources they provide to local communities.

Key Points

  • Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) surpass critical coral bleaching thresholds by mid-century in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and Caribbean Sea
  • The rate and magnitude of SST changes in the GoM/Caribbean more strongly influence future coral reef vulnerability than ocean acidification
  • Future climate projections with high greenhouse gas forcing underscore the need for mitigation to ensure long-term coral reef preservation
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Acidification, deoxygenation, and nutrient and biomass declines in a warming Mediterranean Sea (update)

The projected warming, nutrient decline, changes in net primary production, deoxygenation and acidification of the global ocean will affect marine ecosystems during the 21st century. Here, the climate change-related impacts on the marine ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea in the middle and at the end of the 21st century are assessed using high-resolution projections of the physical and biogeochemical state of the basin under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 4.5 and 8.5. In both scenarios, the analysis shows changes in the dissolved nutrient contents of the euphotic and intermediate layers of the basin, net primary production, phytoplankton respiration and carbon stock (including phytoplankton, zooplankton, bacterial biomass and particulate organic matter). The projections also show uniform surface and subsurface reductions in the oxygen concentration driven by the warming of the water column and by the increase in ecosystem respiration as well as an acidification signal in the upper water column linked to the increase in the dissolved inorganic carbon content of the water column due to CO2 absorption from the atmosphere and the increase in respiration. The projected changes are stronger in the RCP8.5 (worst-case) scenario and, in particular, in the eastern Mediterranean due to the limited influence of the exchanges in the Strait of Gibraltar in that part of the basin. On the other hand, analysis of the projections under the RCP4.5 emission scenario shows a tendency to recover the values observed at the beginning of the 21st century for several biogeochemical variables in the second half of the period. This result supports the idea – possibly based on the existence in a system such as the Mediterranean Sea of a certain buffer capacity and renewal rate – that the implementation of policies for reducing CO2 emission could indeed be effective and could contribute to the foundation of ocean sustainability science and policies.

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Modeling the sea-surface pCO2 of the central Bay of Bengal region using machine learning algorithms


  • Performance of MLR, ANN, and XGboost for emulating sea-surface pCO2 is evaluated.
  • XGBoost outperforms MLR and ANN in reproducing sea-surface pCO2.
  • The pCO2 reproducibility using satellite-derived SST and SSS is best using XGBoost.
  • The central BoB has been warming at a rate of 0.0175°C per year during 2010–2019.
  • The sea-surface pCO2 decreases at a rate of −0.4852 μatm per year in the BoB.


The present study explores the capabilities of advanced machine learning algorithms in predicting the sea-surface pCO2 (partial pressure of carbon dioxide) in the open oceans of the Bay of Bengal (BoB). We collect the available observations (outside EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone)) from the cruise tracks and the mooring stations. Due to the paucity of data in the BoB, we attempt to predict pCO2 based on the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and the Sea Surface Salinity (SSS). Comparing the MLR, the ANN, and the XGBoost algorithm against a common dataset reveals that the XGBoost performs the best for predicting the sea-surface pCO2 in the BoB. Using the satellite-derived SST and SSS, we predict the sea-surface pCO2 using the XGBoost model and compare the same with the in-situ observations. The model performs satisfactorily, having a correlation of 0.75 and the RMSE of ±12.23μatm. Further using this model, we emulate the monthly variations in the sea-surface pCO2 for the central BoB between 2010-2019. Using the satellite data, we show that the central BoB is warming at a rate of 0.0175 °C per year, whereas the SSS decreases at a rate of -0.0088 PSU per year. The modeled pCO2 shows a declination at a rate of −0.4852 μatm per year. We perform sensitivity experiments to find that the variations in SST and SSS contribute ≈ 41% and ≈ 37% to the declining trends of the pCO2 for the last decade. Seasonal analysis shows that the pre-monsoon season has the highest rate of decrease of the sea-surface pCO2.

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Pelagic calcifiers face increased mortality and habitat loss with warming and ocean acidification

Global change is impacting the oceans in an unprecedented way, and multiple lines of evidence suggest that species distributions are changing in space and time. There is increasing evidence that multiple environmental stressors act together to constrain species habitat more than expected from warming alone. Here, we conducted a comprehensive study of how temperature and aragonite saturation state act together to limit Limacina helicina, globally distributed pteropods that are ecologically important pelagic calcifiers and an indicator species for ocean change. We co-validated three different approaches to evaluate the impact of ocean warming and acidification (OWA) on the survival and distribution of this species in the California Current Ecosystem. First, we used colocated physical, chemical, and biological data from three large-scale west coast cruises and regional time series; second, we conducted multifactorial experimental incubations to evaluate how OWA impacts pteropod survival; and third, we validated the relationships we found against global distributions of pteropods and carbonate chemistry. OWA experimental work revealed mortality increases under OWA, while regional habitat suitability indices and global distributions of L. helicina suggest that a multi-stressor framework is essential for understanding pteropod distributions. In California Current Ecosystem habitats, where pteropods are living close to their thermal maximum already, additional warming and acidification through unabated fossil fuel emissions (RCP 8.5) are expected to dramatically reduce habitat suitability.

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pH trends and seasonal cycle in the coastal Balearic Sea reconstructed through machine learning

The decreasing seawater pH trend associated with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is an issue of concern due to possible negative consequences for marine organisms, especially calcifiers. Globally, coastal areas represent important transitional land-ocean zones with complex interactions between biological, physical and chemical processes. Here, we evaluated the pH variability at two sites in the coastal area of the Balearic Sea (Western Mediterranean). High resolution pH data along with temperature, salinity, and also dissolved oxygen were obtained with autonomous sensors from 2018 to 2021 in order to determine the temporal pH variability and the principal drivers involved. By using environmental datasets of temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen, Recurrent Neural Networks were trained to predict pH and fill data gaps. Longer environmental time series (2012–2021) were used to obtain the pH trend using reconstructed data. The best predictions show a rate of  −0.0020 ± 0.00054 − 0.0020 ± 0.00054 pH units year−1, which is in good agreement with other observations of pH rates in coastal areas. The methodology presented here opens the possibility to obtain pH trends when only limited pH observations are available, if other variables are accessible. Potentially, this could be a way to reliably fill the unavoidable gaps present in time series data provided by sensors.

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Shallow water records of the PETM: novel insights From NE India (eastern Tethys)


The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is associated with major extinctions in the deep ocean, and significant paleogeographic and ecological changes in surface ocean and terrestrial environments. However, the impact of the associated environmental change on shelf biota is less well understood. Here, we present a new PETM record of a low paleolatitude shallow-marine carbonate platform from Meghalaya, NE India (eastern Tethys). The biotic assemblage was distinctly different to other Tethyan PETM records dominated by larger benthic foraminifera and calcareous algae both in the Paleocene and Eocene. A change in taxa and forms indicating deeper waters with a concurrent decrease in abundance of shallow water algae suggests a sea-level rise during the onset of the PETM. The record is lacking the ecological change from corals to larger foraminiferal assemblages and the Lockhartia dominance, characteristic of several other sections in the Tethys. Comparison with a global circulation model (GCM) indicates high regional temperatures in the Thanetian which may have excluded corals from the region. Furthermore, the regional circulation pattern is isolating the site from the wider Paratethys. Our study highlights the need for a diverse global perspective on shallow-marine response to the PETM and the strength of coupling data to global climate models for interpretation.

Key Points

  • Shallow-marine Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) successions are rare; here, we presented from the low paleolatitude NE India (eastern Tethys)
  • The absence of coral reefs in NE India, in contrast to other Tethyan records, was driven by very high temperatures
  • Linking biotic records of this section with climate modeling allow to interpret the biotic differences across the Tethyan region
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Biological sensitivities to high-resolution climate change projections in the California current marine ecosystem

The California Current Marine Ecosystem is a highly productive system that exhibits strong natural variability and vulnerability to anthropogenic climate trends. Relating projections of ocean change to biological sensitivities requires detailed synthesis of experimental results. Here, we combine measured biological sensitivities with high-resolution climate projections of key variables (temperature, oxygen, and pCO2) to identify the direction, magnitude, and spatial distribution of organism-scale vulnerabilities to multiple axes of projected ocean change. Among 12 selected species of cultural and economic importance, we find that all are sensitive to projected changes in ocean conditions through responses that affect individual performance or population processes. Response indices were largest in the northern region and inner shelf. While performance traits generally increased with projected changes, fitness traits generally decreased, indicating that concurrent stresses can lead to fitness loss. For two species, combining sensitivities to temperature and oxygen changes through the Metabolic Index shows how aerobic habitat availability could be compressed under future conditions. Our results suggest substantial and specific ecological susceptibility in the next 80 years, including potential regional loss of canopy-forming kelp, changes in nearshore food webs caused by declining rates of survival among red urchins, Dungeness crab, and razor clams, and loss of aerobic habitat for anchovy and pink shrimp. We also highlight fillable gaps in knowledge, including specific physiological responses to stressors, variation in responses across life stages, and responses to multistressor combinations. These findings strengthen the case for filling information gaps with experiments focused on fitness-related responses and those that can be used to parameterize integrative physiological models, and suggest that the CCME is susceptible to substantial changes to ecosystem structure and function within this century.

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High vulnerability and a big conservation gap: mapping the vulnerability of coastal scleractinian corals in South China


  • The first vulnerability map for scleractinian corals along the coast of South China was created.
  • An approach combining vulnerability components and habitat suitability models was developed.
  • 37.7 % of the potential coral habitats were highly vulnerable.
  • Only 21.6 % of the coral habitats were protected, indicating a large conservation gap.


Scleractinian corals build the most complex and diverse ecosystems in the ocean with various ecosystem services, yet continue to be degraded by natural and anthropogenic stressors. Despite the rapid decline in scleractinian coral habitats in South China, they are among the least concerning in global coral vulnerability maps. This study developed a rapid assessment approach that combines vulnerability components and species distribution models to map coral vulnerability within a large region based on limited data. The approach contained three aspects including, exposure, habitat suitability, and coral-conservation-based adaptive capacity. The exposure assessment was based on seven indicators, and the habitat suitability was mapped using Maximum Entropy and Random Forest models. Vulnerability of scleractinian corals in South China was spatially evaluated using the approach developed here. The results showed that the average exposure of the study region was 0.62, indicating relatively high pressure. The highest exposure occurred from the east coast of the Leizhou Peninsula to the Pearl River Estuary. Aquaculture and shipping were the most common causes of exposure. Highly suitable habitats for scleractinian corals are concentrated between 18°N–22°N. Only 21.6 % of the potential coral habitats are included in marine protected areas, indicating that there may still be large conservation gaps for scleractinian corals in China. In total, 37.7 % of the potential coral habitats were highly vulnerable, with the highest vulnerability appearing in the Guangdong Province. This study presents the first attempt to map the vulnerability of scleractinian corals along the coast of South China. The proposed approach and findings provide an essential tool and information supporting the sustainable management and conservation of coral reef ecosystems, addressing an important gap on the world’s coral reef vulnerability map.

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Climate change will fragment Florida stone crab communities

Many marine species have been shown to be threatened by both ocean acidification and ocean warming which are reducing survival, altering behavior, and posing limits on physiology, especially during earlier life stages. The commercially important Florida stone crab, Menippe mercenaria, is one species that is affected by reduced seawater pH and elevated seawater temperatures. In this study, we determined the impacts of reduced pH and elevated temperature on the distribution of the stone crab larvae along the West Florida Shelf. To understand the dispersion of the larvae, we coupled the multi-scale ocean model SLIM with a larval dispersal model. We then conducted a connectivity study and evaluated the impacts of climate stressors by looking at four different scenarios which included models that represented the dispersion of stone crab larvae under: 1) present day conditions as modelled by SLIM for the temperature and NEMO-PISCES for the pH, 2) SSP1-2.6 scenario (-0.037 reduction in pH and +0.5°C compared to present-day conditions), 3) SSP2-4.5 scenario(-0.15 reduction in pH and +1.5°C) and 4) SSP5-8.5 scenario (-0.375 reduction in pH and +3.5°C). Our results show a clear impact of these climate change stressors on larval dispersal and on the subsequent stone crab distribution. Our results indicate that future climate change could result in stone crabs moving north or into deeper waters. We also observed an increase in the number of larvae settling in deeper waters (defined as the non-fishing zone in this study with depths exceeding 30 m) that are not typically part of the commercial fishing zone. The distance travelled by larvae, however, is likely to decrease, resulting in an increase of self-recruitment and decrease of the size of the sub-populations. A shift of the spawning period, to earlier in the spring, is also likely to occur. Our results suggest that habitats in the non-fishing zone cannot serve as a significant source of larvae for the habitats in the fishing zone (defined as water depth< 30 m) since there is very little exchange (< 5% of all exchanges) between the two zones. These results indicate that the stone crab populations in Florida may be susceptible to community fragmentation and that the management of the fishery should consider the potential impacts of future climate change scenarios.

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Role of coral symbiont in coral resilience under future ocean conditions

Anthropogenic climate change is leading to severe consequences for coral reefs because it disrupts the mutualistic partnership between the coral host and their dinoflagellate endosymbionts (Family: Symbiodiniaceae). Ocean acidification (OA) and ocean warming lead to reduced coral growth, causes coral bleaching, and increases coral mortality. One mechanism of long-term acclimatization to thermal stress by corals is to acquire more thermally tolerant symbiont lineages or increase the proportion of thermally tolerant lineages in the symbiont community. Using a combination of field and long-term mesocosm experiments this research investigated the main drivers of Symbiodiniaceae community composition in some of the main corals in Hawai‘i. The first chapter elucidates the baseline symbiont community composition of 600 colonies of Montipora capitata sampled from 30 reefs across the range of environmental conditions that occur in Kāne‘ohe Bay. Symbiodiniaceae community differed markedly across sites, with M. capitata in the most open-ocean (northern) site hosting few or none of the genus Durusdinium, whereas individuals at other sites had a mix of Durusdinium and Cladocopium. The second chapter then investigates how the symbiont composition of those same individually marked colonies responded to the 2019 bleaching event. The relative proportion of the heat-tolerant symbiont Durusdinium increased in most parts of the bay, but despite this significant increase in abundance, the overall algal symbiont community composition was largely unchanged. Rather than bleaching stress, symbiont community composition was driven by environmentally designated regions across the bay, and remained differentiated and similar to pre-bleaching composition. Among measured variables, depth and variability in temperature were the most significant drivers of Symbiodiniaceae community composition among sites, regardless of bleaching intensity or change in relative proportion of Durusdinium. The final chapter investigates the role of specificity in the symbiont community composition for eight of the main Hawaiian corals sampled from six different locations around O‘ahu. Corals were then maintained for ~2.5 years under temperature and acidification conditions predicted by the end of the century in a mesocosm experiment to determine the response of their symbiont communities to climate change and test for environmental memory. Symbiodiniaceae communities were highly specific in each of the eight coral species-, and site-specific differences in community composition were lost by the end of the experiment in the common garden ambient treatment. Future ocean conditions lead to an increase in stress resilient symbionts (e.g., Durusdinium) in some species, whereas others became more vulnerable to the infection of opportunistic symbionts (e.g., Symbiodinium or Breviolum). Temperature was found to be the main driver of change, whereas there was no significant effect of acidification on symbiont community composition. Provenance of corals mattered, because corals from some locations responded differently than conspecifics from other locations confirming an environmental memory effect. Together these results highlight the complexity in predicting coral response to future ocean conditions. Algal symbiont community composition of corals changes in response to their environment, and that this response is dependent on both the coral species and their site of origin, highlighting the role of symbiont specificity and environmental memory in shaping coral resilience.

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Anthropogenic carbon increase has caused critical shifts in aragonite saturation across a sensitive coastal system


Estuarine systems host a rich diversity of marine life that is vulnerable to changes in ocean chemistry due to addition of anthropogenic carbon. However, the detection and impact of secular carbon trends in these systems is complicated by heightened natural variability as compared to open-ocean regimes. We investigate biogeochemical changes between the pre-industrial (PI) and modern periods using a high-resolution, three-dimensional, biophysical model of the Salish Sea, a representative Northeast Pacific coastal system. While the seasonal amplitude of the air-sea difference in pCO2 has increased on average since pre-industrial times, the net CO2 source has changed little. Our simulations show that inorganic carbon has increased throughout the model domain by 29–39 mmol m−3 (28–38 µmol kg−1) from the pre-industrial to present. While this increase is modest in a global context, the region’s naturally high inorganic carbon content and the low buffering capacity of the local carbonate system amplify the resultant effects. Notably, this increased carbon drives the estuary toward system-wide undersaturation of aragonite, negatively impacting shell-forming organisms. Undersaturation events were rare during the pre-industrial experiment, with 10%–25% of the domain undersaturated by volume throughout the year, while under present-day conditions, the majority (55%–75%) of the system experiences corrosive, undersaturated conditions year-round. These results are extended using recent global coastal observations to show that estuaries throughout the Pacific Rim have already undergone a similar saturation state regime shift.

Key Points

  • On average, dissolved inorganic carbon has increased by 29–39 mmol m−3 in the Salish Sea, causing a shift to majority aragonite undersaturation by volume
  • Modern aragonite saturation conditions, though variable, are typically outside of the range of pre-industrial values throughout the domain
  • Much of the coastal Pacific Rim has similar carbonate chemistry conditions, and comparable shifts in aragonite saturation may have occurred
Continue reading ‘Anthropogenic carbon increase has caused critical shifts in aragonite saturation across a sensitive coastal system’

Coupled carbonate chemistry – harmful algae bloom models for studying effects of ocean acidification on Prorocentrum minimum blooms in a eutrophic estuary

Eutrophic estuaries have suffered from a proliferation of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and acceleration of ocean acidification (OA) over the past few decades. Despite laboratory experiments indicating pH effects on algal growth, little is understood about how acidification affects HABs in estuaries that typically feature strong horizontal and vertical gradients in pH and other carbonate chemistry parameters. Here, coupled hydrodynamic–carbonate chemistry–HAB models were developed to gain a better understanding of OA effects on a high biomass HAB in a eutrophic estuary and to project how the global anthropogenic CO2 increase might affect these HABs in the future climate. Prorocentrum minimum in Chesapeake bay, USA, one of the most common HAB species in estuarine waters, was used as an example for studying the OA effects on HABs. Laboratory data on P. minimum grown under different pH conditions were applied in the development of an empirical formula relating growth rate to pH. Hindcast simulation using the coupled hydrodynamic-carbonate chemistry–HAB models showed that the P. minimum blooms were enhanced in the upper bay where pH was low. On the other hand, pH effects on P. minimum growth in the mid and lower bay with higher pH were minimal, but model simulations show surface seaward estuarine flow exported the higher biomass in the upper bay downstream. Future model projections with higher atmospheric pCO2 show that the bay-wide averaged P. minimum concentration during the bloom periods increases by 2.9% in 2050 and 6.2% in 2100 as pH decreases and 0.2 or 0.4, respectively. Overall the model results suggest OA will cause a moderate amplification of P. minimum blooms in Chesapeake bay. The coupled modeling framework developed here can be applied to study the effects of OA on other HAB species in estuarine and coastal environments.

Continue reading ‘Coupled carbonate chemistry – harmful algae bloom models for studying effects of ocean acidification on Prorocentrum minimum blooms in a eutrophic estuary’

Simulated response of St. Joseph Bay, Florida, seagrass meadows and their belowground carbon to anthropogenic and climate impacts


  • The bio-optical model GrassLight predicted the response of the relatively stable seagrass meadows of St. Joseph Bay, Florida to future climate and anthropogenic scenarios.
  • Simulations predicted a 2–8% decline in seagrass extent with rising temperatures that was offset by a 3–11% expansion in seagrass extent in response to ocean acidification.
  • Anthropogenic changes in water quality were a bigger stressor than temperature and pH, predicting up to 21% decline in seagrass extent.
  • Ocean acidification may stimulate seagrass productivity sufficiently to offset both the negative effects of thermal stress and declining water quality on the seagrasses of St. Joseph Bay, Florida.


Seagrass meadows are degraded globally and continue to decline in areal extent due to human pressures and climate change. This study used the bio-optical model GrassLight to explore the impact of climate change and anthropogenic stressors on seagrass extent, leaf area index (LAI) and belowground organic carbon (BGC) in St. Joseph Bay, Florida, using water quality data and remotely-sensed sea surface temperature (SST) from 2002 to 2020. Model predictions were compared with satellite-derived measurements of seagrass extent and shoot density from the Landsat images for the same period. The GrassLight-derived area of potential seagrass habitat ranged from 36.2 km2 to 39.2 km2, averaging 38.0 ± 0.8 km2 compared to an observed seagrass extent of 23.0 ± 3.0 km2 derived from Landsat (range = 17.9–27.4 km2). GrassLight predicted a mean seagrass LAI of 2.7 m2 leaf m−2 seabed, compared to a mean LAI of 1.9 m2 m−2 estimated from Landsat, indicating that seagrass density in St. Joseph Bay may have been below its light-limited ecological potential. Climate and anthropogenic change simulations using GrassLight predicted the impact of changes in temperature, pH, chlorophyll a, chromophoric dissolved organic matter and turbidity on seagrass meadows. Simulations predicted a 2–8% decline in seagrass extent with rising temperatures that was offset by a 3–11% expansion in seagrass extent in response to ocean acidification when compared to present conditions. Simulations of water quality impacts showed that a doubling of turbidity would reduce seagrass extent by 18% and total leaf area by 21%. Combining climate and water quality scenarios showed that ocean acidification may increase seagrass productivity to offset the negative effects of both thermal stress and declining water quality on the seagrasses growing in St. Joseph Bay. This research highlights the importance of considering multiple limiting factors in understanding the effects of environmental change on seagrass ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Simulated response of St. Joseph Bay, Florida, seagrass meadows and their belowground carbon to anthropogenic and climate impacts’

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