Posts Tagged 'sediment'

Effects of warming and CO2 enrichment on O2 consumption, porewater oxygenation and pH of subtidal silt sediment

We investigated the effects of seawater warming and CO2 enrichment on the microbial community metabolism (using O2 consumption as a proxy) in subtidal silt sediment. Intact sediment cores, without large dwelling infauna, were incubated for 24 days at 12 (in situ) and 18 °C to confirm the expected temperature response. We then enriched the seawater overlying a subset of cold and warm-incubated cores with CO2 (+ ΔpCO2: 253–396 µatm) for 16 days and measured the metabolic response. Warming increased the depth-integrated volume-specific O2 consumption (Rvol), the maximum in the volume-specific O2 consumption at the bottom of the oxic zone (Rvol,bmax) and the volume-specific net O2 production (Pn,vol), and decreased the O2 penetration depth (O2-pd) and the depth of Rvol,bmax (depthbmax). Benthic photosynthesis oscillated the pH in the upper 2 mm of the sediment. CO2 enrichment of the warm seawater did not alter this oscillation but shifted the pH profile towards acidity; the effect was greatest at the surface and decreased to a depth of 12 mm. Confoundment rendered the CO2 treatment of the cold seawater inconclusive. In warm seawater, we found no statistically clear effect of CO2 enrichment on RvolRvol,bmaxPn,vol, O2-pd, or depthbmax and therefore suspect that this perturbation did not alter the microbial community metabolism. This confirms the conclusion from experiments with other, contrasting types of sediment.

Continue reading ‘Effects of warming and CO2 enrichment on O2 consumption, porewater oxygenation and pH of subtidal silt sediment’

Microcalcareous seaweeds as sentinels of trophic changes and CO2 trapping in transitional water systems

Highlights

  • The presence of microcalcareous macroalgae was studied in the Italian lagoons.
  • Macroalgal growth was mainly affected by changes in the pH of the water column.
  • Small algae are a Litmus Test Paper Strip for environmental quality assessment.
  • Carbonated are accumulated in surface sediments by small calcareous macroalgae.
  • The CO2 abatement occurred in environments of good-high ecological conditions.

Abstract

Microcalcareous epiphytic seaweeds (MES) are macroalgae more sensitive than aquatic angiosperms to environmental degradation and, with their presence/absence, these species act like sentinels providing useful information on the ecological status of environments. In this study, we analyzed the environmental parameters in water column and surface sediments in relation to macrophyte variables from 257 sites, distributed in the main Italian transitional water systems (TWS). The results showed that MES are strongly correlated to pH changes, the main parameter that regulates their presence/absence. The optimal growth range is between pH 7.80 and 8.35; out of these values their growth is reduced or hampered. In oxidized sediments the carbonate crusts, composed by Mg-Calcite (an unstable compound that in the sediments quickly turns into calcite), can permanently trap up to 2.47 tonnes ha−1 yr−1 of CO2, increasing sediment thickness of approx. 0.06–0.21 mm yr−1.

Continue reading ‘Microcalcareous seaweeds as sentinels of trophic changes and CO2 trapping in transitional water systems’

Rapid shifts in circulation and biogeochemistry of the Southern Ocean during deglacial carbon cycle events

The Southern Ocean plays a crucial role in regulating atmospheric CO2 on centennial to millennial time scales. However, observations of sufficient resolution to explore this have been lacking. Here, we report high-resolution, multiproxy records based on precisely dated deep-sea corals from the Southern Ocean. Paired deep (∆14C and δ11B) and surface (δ15N) proxy data point to enhanced upwelling coupled with reduced efficiency of the biological pump at 14.6 and 11.7 thousand years (ka) ago, which would have facilitated rapid carbon release to the atmosphere. Transient periods of unusually well-ventilated waters in the deep Southern Ocean occurred at 16.3 and 12.8 ka ago. Contemporaneous atmospheric carbon records indicate that these Southern Ocean ventilation events are also important in releasing respired carbon from the deep ocean to the atmosphere. Our results thus highlight two distinct modes of Southern Ocean circulation and biogeochemistry associated with centennial-scale atmospheric CO2 jumps during the last deglaciation.

Continue reading ‘Rapid shifts in circulation and biogeochemistry of the Southern Ocean during deglacial carbon cycle events’

Benthic respiration in hypoxic waters enhances bottom water acidification in the northern Gulf of Mexico

It is known that surface water eutrophication enhances bottom water ocean acidification via respiration in coastal oceans. However, the role of benthic processes in influencing bottom water acidification has not been sufficiently explored. We examined this issue by analyzing a 10‐year summer carbonate chemistry dataset in bottom water together with recent benthic flux measurements and literature benthic flux data in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The difference between the observed and estimated pH (Ω) values calculated from anthropogenic CO2 increase and water column aerobic respiration were defined as ΔpH (ΔΩ). We found that ΔpH and ΔΩ values in hypoxic condition were −0.03 ± 0.04 (mean ± standard deviation) and −0.15 ± 0.39, respectively. Both ΔpH and ΔΩ values in hypoxic conditions were significantly lower than zero (p < 0.05). The net results of anaerobic respiration, oxidation of reduced chemcials, burial of iron sulfide minerals, and possible CaCO3 dissolution may have led to an alkalinity to DIC production ratio of less than 1 in porewater. This caused the ratio of alkalinity to dissolved inorganic carbon fluxes from sediment to bottom water to be less than 1, which led to additional bottom water acidification. Our analysis and model simulations demonstrate that severe hypoxic and anoxic conditions, which correspond to less water movement, favor the accumulation of benthic respiration products, leading to additional pH and Ω reductions. The findings on sediment processes contributing to acidification in bottom waters provide new insights into the sensitivity of coastal ocean acidification to low‐oxygen conditions under current and future climates and anthropogenic nutrient loading scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Benthic respiration in hypoxic waters enhances bottom water acidification in the northern Gulf of Mexico’

Coral reef sediment dissolution in a changing ocean: insights from a temporal field study

Calcium carbonate sediments form an essential part of coral reefs yet have often been overlooked when studying the effects of future ocean acidification (OA). This original field-based research aims to assess the temporal variability of organic and inorganic sediment metabolism under ambient and elevated pCO2. OA caused a shift from net precipitation to net dissolution, but the sensitivity to OA varied seasonally, depending on interactions with temperature and benthic productivity. A slack-water approach of net ecosystem calcification revealed that sediments can play an important role in carbonate budgets, particularly at night, and become increasingly important as the oceans continue acidifying.

Continue reading ‘Coral reef sediment dissolution in a changing ocean: insights from a temporal field study’

Ervilia castanea (Mollusca, Bivalvia) populations adversely affected at CO2 seeps in the North Atlantic

Highlights

  • The bivalve Ervilia castanea was studied at volcanic CO2 seeps and reference sites.
  • Abundance, size and net-calcification were inversely related to CO2 levels.
  • Large individuals were scarce or absent at high CO2 sites.
  • Recruitment of this bivalve was highest at the CO2 seeps.
  • Abundance and size of E. castanea were positively correlated with Chl-a in sediment.

Abstract

Sites with naturally high CO2 conditions provide unique opportunities to forecast the vulnerability of coastal ecosystems to ocean acidification, by studying the biological responses and potential adaptations to this increased environmental variability. In this study, we investigated the bivalve Ervilia castanea in coastal sandy sediments at reference sites and at volcanic CO2 seeps off the Azores, where the pH of bottom waters ranged from average oceanic levels of 8.2, along gradients, down to 6.81, in carbonated seawater at the seeps. The bivalve population structure changed markedly at the seeps. Large individuals became less abundant as seawater CO2 levels rose and were completely absent from the most acidified sites. In contrast, small bivalves were most abundant at the CO2 seeps. We propose that larvae can settle and initially live in high abundances under elevated CO2 levels, but that high rates of post-settlement dispersal and/or mortality occur. Ervilia castanea were susceptible to elevated CO2 levels and these effects were consistently associated with lower food supplies. This raises concerns about the effects of ocean acidification on the brood stock of this species and other bivalve molluscs with similar life history traits.

Continue reading ‘Ervilia castanea (Mollusca, Bivalvia) populations adversely affected at CO2 seeps in the North Atlantic’

Ervilia castanea (Mollusca, Bivalvia) populations adversely affected at CO2 seeps in the North Atlantic

Highlights

  • The bivalve Ervilia castanea was studied at volcanic CO2 seeps and reference sites.
  • Abundance, size and net-calcification were inversely related to CO2 levels.
  • Large individuals were scarce or absent at high CO2 sites.
  • Recruitment of this bivalve was highest at the CO2 seeps.
  • Abundance and size of E. castanea were positively correlated with Chl-a in sediment.

 

Abstract

Sites with naturally high CO2 conditions provide unique opportunities to forecast the vulnerability of coastal ecosystems to ocean acidification, by studying the biological responses and potential adaptations to this increased environmental variability. In this study, we investigated the bivalve Ervilia castanea in coastal sandy sediments at reference sites and at volcanic CO2 seeps off the Azores, where the pH of bottom waters ranged from average oceanic levels of 8.2, along gradients, down to 6.81, in carbonated seawater at the seeps. The bivalve population structure changed markedly at the seeps. Large individuals became less abundant as seawater CO2 levels rose and were completely absent from the most acidified sites. In contrast, small bivalves were most abundant at the CO2 seeps. We propose that larvae can settle and initially live in high abundances under elevated CO2 levels, but that high rates of post-settlement dispersal and/or mortality occur. Ervilia castanea were susceptible to elevated CO2 levels and these effects were consistently associated to lower food supplies. This raises concerns about the effects of ocean acidification on the brood stock of this species and other bivalve molluscs of similar life history traits.

 

Continue reading ‘Ervilia castanea (Mollusca, Bivalvia) populations adversely affected at CO2 seeps in the North Atlantic’

Ocean acidification and hypoxia alter organic carbon fluxes in marine soft sediments

Anthropogenic stressors can alter the structure and functioning of infaunal communities, which are key drivers of the carbon cycle in marine soft sediments. Nonetheless, the compounded effects of anthropogenic stressors on carbon fluxes in soft benthic systems remain largely unknown. Here, we investigated the cumulative effects of ocean acidification (OA) and hypoxia on the organic carbon fate in marine sediments, through a mesocosm experiment. Isotopically labelled macroalgal detritus (13C) was used as a tracer to assess carbon incorporation in faunal tissue and in sediments under different experimental conditions. In addition, labelled macroalgae (13C), previously exposed to elevated CO2, were also used to assess the organic carbon uptake by fauna and sediments, when both sources and consumers were exposed to elevated CO2. At elevated CO2, infauna increased the uptake of carbon, likely as compensatory response to the higher energetic costs faced under adverse environmental conditions. By contrast, there was no increase in carbon uptake by fauna exposed to both stressors in combination, indicating that even a short‐term hypoxic event may weaken the ability of marine invertebrates to withstand elevated CO2 conditions. In addition, both hypoxia and elevated CO2 increased organic carbon burial in the sediment, potentially affecting sediment biogeochemical processes. Since hypoxia and OA are predicted to increase in the face of climate change, our results suggest that local reduction of hypoxic events may mitigate the impacts of global climate change on marine soft‐sediment systems.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and hypoxia alter organic carbon fluxes in marine soft sediments’

Potential influence of ocean acidification on deep-sea Fe–Mn nodules and pelagic clays: an improved assessment by using artificial seawater

In order to assess the potential risk of metal release from deep-sea sediments in response to pH decrease in seawater, the mobility of elements from ferromanganese (Fe–Mn) nodules and pelagic clays was examined. Two geochemical reference samples (JMn-1 and JMS-2) were reacted with the pH-controlled artificial seawater (ASW) using a CO2-induced pH regulation system. Our experiments demonstrated that deep-sea sediments have weak buffer capacities by acid–base dissociation of surface hydroxyl groups on metal oxides/oxyhydroxides and silicate minerals. Element concentrations in the ASW were mainly controlled by elemental speciation in the solid phase and sorption–desorption reaction between the charged solid surface and ion species in the ASW. These results indicated that the release of heavy metals such as Mn, Cu, Zn and Cd should be taken into consideration when assessing the influence of ocean acidification on deep-sea environment.

Continue reading ‘Potential influence of ocean acidification on deep-sea Fe–Mn nodules and pelagic clays: an improved assessment by using artificial seawater’

Insight into deep-sea life – Cibicidoides pachyderma substrate and pH-dependent behaviour following disturbance

Highlights

• First observations of Cibicidoides pachyderma var. C. mundulus under in situ pressure and temperature.
• Option for an epi- or endobenthic habitat is pH-dependent.
• Under normal pH exhibits strong rheotaxis.
• Growth in Cibicidoides pachyderma var. C. mundulus requires a protective sedimentary cyst.

Abstract

Most palaeo-deep-water reconstructions are based on geochemical information stored in the calcareous shells of Cibicidoides species but hardly anything is known about their life cycle, population dynamics or ecology. The number of specimens of a single Cibicidoides species can locally be very limited and species may be lacking completely during certain intervals in the geological past. As a consequence, geochemical analyses are often carried out on lumped Cibicidoides spp. assuming that they share the same epizoic to epifaunal habitat and precipitated their shell in comparable offsets to surrounding bottom water mass properties. However, there is a growing body of evidence that particularly Cibicidoides pachyderma and its morphotypes C. mundulus and C. kullenbergi, may not be reliable bottom water recorders.

We have recently developed aquaria that allowed, for the first time, observations of Cibicidoides pachyderma var. C. mundulus under in situ pressure and temperature. Experiments were carried out with and without artificial sediments to simulate soft sediments and rocks, respectively. Seawater was set to pH 8 and pH 7.4 to simulate more or less particulate carbon export or more or less ventilation of bottom water. Our experiments demonstrate that C. mundulus may opt for an epifaunal or an infaunal habitat depending on elapsed time following physical disturbance, pH, current activity, the availability of sediments and growth. The specimen’s initial response following transfer from atmospheric pressure into the high-pressure aquaria was to immerse into the sediment or to cover more or less parts of the test with aggregated sediments or algae. However, within 24 h a strong rheotaxis became apparent and most specimens moved to sites of increased current activity under normal pH conditions (pH 8). Only few specimens remained in algae cysts or in the sediment in the pH-8 experiment. On the contrary, all specimens under pH 7.4 agglutinated a firm sediment cyst around their test and remained infaunal throughout the experimental period of three months.

Independent of pH, growth was only observed in specimens that lived within an agglutinated cyst or infaunal. A solid thick cyst covered the specimens of the pH 7.4 experiment throughout the experiment and possibly restricted water exchange between the in-cyst water and the surrounding artificial bottom water mass. We suggest that a more fragile and possibly more porous sedimentary envelope may, at least temporally, have covered the infaunal specimens under pH 8 but no evidence for this was found upon termination of the experiment.

Continue reading ‘Insight into deep-sea life – Cibicidoides pachyderma substrate and pH-dependent behaviour following disturbance’


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