Posts Tagged 'regionalmodeling'

Sedimentary alkalinity generation and long-term alkalinity development in the Baltic Sea

Enhanced release of alkalinity from the seafloor, principally driven by anaerobic degradation of organic matter under low-oxygen conditions and associated secondary redox reactions, can increase the carbon dioxide (CO2) buffering capacity of seawater and therefore oceanic CO2 uptake. The Baltic Sea has undergone severe changes in oxygenation state and total alkalinity (TA) over the past decades. The link between these concurrent changes has not yet been investigated in detail. A recent system-wide TA budget constructed for the past 50 years using BALTSEM, a coupled physical–biogeochemical model for the whole Baltic Sea area revealed an unknown TA source. Here we use BALTSEM in combination with observational data and one-dimensional reactive-transport modeling of sedimentary processes in the Fårö Deep, a deep Baltic Sea basin, to test whether sulfate (SO2−4) reduction coupled to iron (Fe) sulfide burial can explain the missing TA source in the Baltic Proper. We calculated that this burial can account for up to 26 % of the missing source in this basin, with the remaining TA possibly originating from unknown river inputs or submarine groundwater discharge. We also show that temporal variability in the input of Fe to the sediments since the 1970s drives changes in sulfur (S) burial in the Fårö Deep, suggesting that Fe availability is the ultimate limiting factor for TA generation under anoxic conditions. The implementation of projected climate change and two nutrient load scenarios for the 21st century in BALTSEM shows that reducing nutrient loads will improve deep water oxygen conditions, but at the expense of lower surface water TA concentrations, CO2 buffering capacities and faster acidification. When these changes additionally lead to a decrease in Fe inputs to the sediment of the deep basins, anaerobic TA generation will be reduced even further, thus exacerbating acidification. This work highlights that Fe dynamics plays a key role in the release of TA from sediments where Fe sulfide formation is limited by Fe availability, as exemplified by the Baltic Sea. Moreover, it demonstrates that burial of Fe sulfides should be included in TA budgets of low-oxygen basins.

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Drivers of 21st century carbon cycle variability in the North Atlantic ocean

The North Atlantic carbon sink is a prominent component of global climate, storing large amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), but this basin’s CO2 uptake variability presents challenges for future climate prediction. A comprehensive mechanistic understanding of the processes that give rise to year-to-year (interannual) and decade-to-decade (decadal) variability in the North Atlantic’s dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) inventory is lacking. Here, we numerically simulate the 5 oceanic response to human-induced (anthropogenic) climate change from the industrial era to the year 2100. The model distinguishes how different physical, chemical, and biological processes modify the basin’s DIC inventory; the saturation, soft tissue, and carbonate pumps, anthropogenic emissions, and other processes causing air-sea disequilibria. There are four ‘natural’ pools (saturation, soft tissue, carbonate, and disequilibrium), and an ‘anthropogenic’ pool. Interannual variability of the North Atlantic DIC inventory arises primarily due to temperature- and alkalinity-induced changes in carbon solubility (satu10 ration concentrations). A mixture of saturation and anthropogenic drivers cause decadal variability. Multidecadal variability
results from the opposing effects of saturation versus soft tissue carbon, and anthropogenic carbon uptake. By the year 2100, the North Atlantic gains 66 Pg (1 Pg = 1015 grams) of anthropogenic carbon, and the natural carbon pools collectively decline by 4.8 Pg. The first order controls on interannual variability of the North Atlantic carbon sink size are therefore largely
physical, and the biological pump emerges as an important driver of change on multidecadal timescales. Further work should 15 identify specifically which physical processes underlie the interannual saturation-dominated DIC variability documented here.

Continue reading ‘Drivers of 21st century carbon cycle variability in the North Atlantic ocean’

Biological regulation of pH during intensive growth of phytoplankton in two eutrophic estuarine waters

Estuarine inorganic eutrophication results in high biomass of phytoplankton and elevates pH in the surface layer. However, its effects on the carbonate system are not well understood. We conducted incubation experiments using low-, moderate- and high-salinity waters enriched with nutrients in Delaware Bay and the Pearl River Estuary to examine effects on the carbonate system. The results showed that as phytoplankton grew, pH increased and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) decreased. However, the decrease in DIC was not fully accounted for by the production of organic carbon. This indicates that some C was missing during high phytoplankton growth. The missing C appeared to depend on the water buffering capacity, as it was largest when pH was highest in the low-salinity estuarine water. Total alkalinity (TA) decreased more in the low-salinity water with nutrient additions in both estuaries. We proposed that carbonate precipitation was formed at high pH driven by high phytoplankton growth, which is confirmed by a model simulation of TA. The model simulation based on the stoichiometric ratio of -Δ106DIC:Δ17TA demonstrated the difference between simulated and observed TA. The difference disappeared when carbonate precipitation formation was considered in the model, indicating carbonate precipitation formation could account for the missing C, the decrease in TA and the increase in pH. We concluded that the mechanism of CO2 being released from carbonate precipitation due to bloom-induced high pH benefits further photosynthesis, thus enhancing the biological pump efficiency in estuarine and coastal ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Biological regulation of pH during intensive growth of phytoplankton in two eutrophic estuarine waters’

Modeled effect of coastal biogeochemical processes, climate variability, and ocean acidification on aragonite saturation state in the Bering Sea

The Bering Sea is highly vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA) due to naturally cold, poorly buffered waters and ocean mixing processes. Harsh weather conditions within this rapidly changing, geographically remote environment have limited the quantity of carbon chemistry data, thereby hampering efforts to understand underlying spatial-temporal variability and detect long-term trends. We add carbonate chemistry to a regional biogeochemical model of the Bering Sea to explore the underlying mechanisms driving carbon dynamics over a decadal hindcast (2003–2012). The results illustrate that coastal processes generate considerable spatial variability in the biogeochemistry and vulnerability of Bering Sea shelf water to OA. Substantial seasonal biological productivity maintains high supersaturation of aragonite on the outer shelf, whereas riverine freshwater runoff loaded with allochthonous carbon decreases aragonite saturation states (ΩArag) to values below 1 on the inner shelf. Over the entire 2003–2012 model hindcast, annual surface ΩArag decreases by 0.025 – 0.04 units/year due to positive trends in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) in surface waters and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). Variability in this trend is driven by an increase in fall phytoplankton productivity and shelf carbon uptake, occurring during a transition from a relatively warm (2003–2005) to cold (2010–2012) temperature regime. Our results illustrate how local biogeochemical processes and climate variability can modify projected rates of OA within a coastal shelf system.

Continue reading ‘Modeled effect of coastal biogeochemical processes, climate variability, and ocean acidification on aragonite saturation state in the Bering Sea’

Controls on carbonate system dynamics in a coastal plain estuary: a modelling study

The study of acidification in Chesapeake Bay is challenged by the complex spatial and temporal patterns of estuarine carbonate chemistry driven by highly variable freshwater and nutrient inputs. A new module was developed within an existing coupled hydrodynamic‐biogeochemical model to understand the underlying processes controlling variations in the carbonate system. We present a validation of the model against a diversity of field observations, which demonstrated the model’s ability to reproduce large‐scale carbonate chemistry dynamics of Chesapeake Bay. Analysis of model results revealed that hypoxia and acidification were observed to co‐occur in mid‐bay bottom waters and seasonal cycles in these metrics were regulated by aerobic respiration and vertical mixing. Calcium carbonate dissolution was an important buffering mechanism for pH changes in late summer, leading to stable or slightly higher pH values in this season despite persistent hypoxic conditions. Model results indicate a strong spatial gradient in air‐sea CO2 fluxes, where the heterotrophic upper bay was a strong CO2source to atmosphere, the mid bay was a net sink with much higher rates of net photosynthesis, and the lower bay was in a balanced condition. Scenario analysis revealed that reductions in riverine nutrient loading will decrease the acid water volume (pH <7.5) as a consequence of reduced organic matter generation and subsequent respiration, while bay‐wide dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) increased and pH declined under scenarios of continuous anthropogenic CO2 emission. This analysis underscores the complexity of carbonate system dynamics in a productive coastal plain estuary with large salinity gradients.

Continue reading ‘Controls on carbonate system dynamics in a coastal plain estuary: a modelling study’

In-situ incubation of a coral patch for community-scale assessment of metabolic and chemical processes on a reef slope

Anthropogenic pressures threaten the health of coral reefs globally. Some of these pressures directly affect coral functioning, while others are indirect, for example by promoting the capacity of bioeroders to dissolve coral aragonite. To assess the coral reef status, it is necessary to validate community-scale measurements of metabolic and geochemical processes in the field, by determining fluxes from enclosed coral reef patches. Here, we investigate diurnal trends of carbonate chemistry, dissolved organic carbon, oxygen, and nutrients on a 20 m deep coral reef patch offshore from the island of Saba, Dutch Caribbean by means of tent incubations. The obtained trends are related to benthic carbon fluxes by quantifying net community calcification (NCC) and net community production (NCP). The relatively strong currents and swell-induced near-bottom surge at this location caused minor seawater exchange between the incubated reef and ambient water. Employing a compensating interpretive model, the exchange is used to our advantage as it maintains reasonably ventilated conditions, which conceivably prevents metabolic arrest during incubation periods of multiple hours. No diurnal trends in carbonate chemistry were detected and all net diurnal rates of production were strongly skewed towards respiration suggesting net heterotrophy in all incubations. The NCC inferred from our incubations ranges from −0.2 to 1.4 mmol CaCO3 m−2 h−1 (−0.2 to 1.2 kg CaCO3 m−2 year−1) and NCP varies from −9 to −21.7 mmol m−2 h−1 (net respiration). When comparing to the consensus-based ReefBudget approach, the estimated NCC rate for the incubated full planar area (0.36 kg CaCO3 m−2 year−1) was lower, but still within range of the different NCC inferred from our incubations. Field trials indicate that the tent-based incubation as presented here, coupled with an appropriate interpretive model, is an effective tool to investigate, in situ, the state of coral reef patches even when located in a relatively hydrodynamic environment.

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Modelling seawater carbonate chemistry in shellfish aquaculture regions: Insights into CO2 release associated with shell formation and growth


• The role of CaCO3 shell production in CO2 release during shelled-mollusc cultivation at aquaculture installations is dependent on a variety of biotic and abiotic factors.
• Carbon sequestration through CaCO3 formation as a by-product of mollusc aquaculture may be included in carbon trading schemes in the future.
• Regional differences in the marine carbonate system can alter the amount of CO2 released per unit CaCO3 formation by a farm mussel.
• Through carbonate chemistry modelling, we show that calcification in identical mussel farms in the Baltic sea would produce 33% more CO2 per g of CaCO3 than in Southern Portugal, with Galician (3% more than Southern Portugal) and Scottish sites (10% more than Southern Portugal) falling in between. This trend is shown to be largely due to differences in abiotic factors such as water temperature and salinity that broadly correspond to latitudinal position, and has important implications for regional scale planning of aquaculture sites in relation to the potential for carbon trading.


Mollusc aquaculture is a high-value industry that is increasing production rapidly in Europe and across the globe. In recent years, there has been discussion of the potential wide-ranging environmental benefits of this form of food production. One aspect of mollusc aquaculture that has received scrutiny is the production of calcareous shells (CaCO3). Mollusc shell growth has sometimes been described as a sink for atmospheric CO2, as it locks away carbon in solid mineral form. However, more rigorous carbonate chemistry modelling, including concurrent changes in seawater pCO2, pH, dissolved inorganic carbon, and total alkalinity, shows that calcification is a net CO2 source to the atmosphere. Combined with discussions about whether mollusc respiration should be included in carbon footprint modelling, this suggests that greater in-depth understanding is required before shellfish aquaculture can be included in carbon trading schemes and footprint calculations. Here, we show that regional differences in the marine carbonate system can alter the amount of CO2 released per unit CaCO3 formation. Our carbonate chemistry modelling shows that a coastal mussel farm in southern Portugal releases up to ~0.290 g of CO2 per g of CaCO3 shell formed. In comparison, an identical farm in the coastal Baltic Sea would produce up to 33% more CO2 per g of CaCO3 (~0.385 g-CO2·(g-CaCO3)−1). This spatial variability should therefore also be considered if mollusc aquaculture is to be included in future carbon trading schemes, and in planning future expansion of production across the industry.

Continue reading ‘Modelling seawater carbonate chemistry in shellfish aquaculture regions: Insights into CO2 release associated with shell formation and growth’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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