Posts Tagged 'South Atlantic'

Autonomous measurement of seawater total alkalinity as an enhancement of ocean carbon observations: from performance characterization to long-term field deployment

Since around the mid of the 18th century, the global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has significantly increased due to anthropogenic activities. For 2018, around 11.5 GtC yr−1 were emitted by fossil fuel combustion and cement production, and land use changes. A sink for the atmospheric CO2 is the ocean, which has taken up around 2.6 GtC yr−1 in 2018. The relative good understanding of the current global mean oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2 is contrasted by a lack of knowledge how the natural carbon cycle will respond regionally to changes introduced by anthropogenic CO2 emissions, like global warming, ocean acidification or ocean deoxygenation. In view of the central role of the oceanic CO2 sink and its vulnerability to these changes, extensive ocean carbon observations are necessary. Over several years, the Ships of Opportunity (SOOP) network provides high-quality CO2 partial pressure (p(CO2)) data of the surface ocean, and, therefore, forms the backbone of the global observation system for the oceanic CO2 sink. However, to get full insight into the marine CO2 system, at least two of the four measurable carbonate variables are required, which are p(CO2), total alkalinity (AT), dissolved inorganic carbon (CT) and pH. The so far common workaround is the prediction of AT by using established temperature-salinity based parameterizations. However, compared with direct measurements, this procedure leads to higher uncertainties and spatiotemporal biases. Therefore, autonomous SOOP-based AT measurements are of great interest and, in the end, should enhance ocean carbon observations. In order to achieve this enhancement, this thesis goals to provide an example of a successful implementation of a novel autonomous analyzer for seawater AT, the CONTROS HydroFIA TA (-4H-JENA engineering GmbH, Germany), on a Carbon-SOOP station operating in the subpolar North Atlantic (together with fundamental guidelines and recommendations leading to high-quality AT data).

Continue reading ‘Autonomous measurement of seawater total alkalinity as an enhancement of ocean carbon observations: from performance characterization to long-term field deployment’

The success of the fertilization and early larval development of the tropical sea urchin Echinometra lucunter (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) is affected by the pH decrease and temperature increase


• Temperature and pH were tested on embryo-larval development of sea urchins.

• Larval development test proved to be more sensitive compared to gamete fecundity test.

• Low pH as an isolated factor exhibit significant results on fertilization and embryo-larval development.

• Extreme high temperature associated with low pH affect only sea urchin’s embryo-larval.

• Combination of low pH and high temperature causes damages in sea urchin.


The decrease in the pH of oceans and the increase in their temperature are the two main problems observed in the marine ecosystems due to the increasing emission of CO2 in the atmosphere. Both conditions can affect the ecological processes of reproduction, recruitment and survival of the marine biota. Thus, the objective of the present study was to evaluate the effects of pH decrease and temperature increase of seawater on the fertilization success and embryo-larval development of a species of tropical sea urchin. For this purpose, fertilization success (gametes) and embryo-larval development rate were determined by exposing gametes and embryos to decreasing pH values (8.0 (control), 7.7, and 7.4) and increasing temperatures (26 (control), 28, 30, 34, and 38 °C). These conditions were tested associated with each other (in synergy). The gamete test was sensitive to all investigated scenarios, the fertilization success was significantly reduced in the conditions of increased temperature (28, 30, 34, and 38 °C) associated with the ideal pH (pH 8.0) and the conditions of reduced pH (pH 7.7, and 7.4), remaining unchanged only in the ideal condition (pH 8.0 + 26 °C). However, the embryo test displayed enhanced sensitivity in the scenarios of temperature increase (28, 30, 34, and 38 °C) associated with pH decrease conditions. A significantly reduction of 29%, 23% and 10% was observed in all tested pH values at 38 °C, when compared to the control group (80%, 79.5% and 63%, respectively). Therefore, the present study suggests that the occurrence of both scenarios may have a significant impact, in the coming years, on the population of Echinometra lucunter.

Continue reading ‘The success of the fertilization and early larval development of the tropical sea urchin Echinometra lucunter (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) is affected by the pH decrease and temperature increase’

Vulnerability and resilience of tropical coastal ecosystems to ocean acidification

Ocean acidification leads to a wide variety of responses from tropical coastal ecosystems. Coral reefs are most vulnerable with most coral species exhibiting declining calcification rates with decreasing pH and carbonate chemistry parameters. Some corals show resilience to acidification likely due to active physiological regulation of their calcifying fluid. Other calcifying organisms, such as some foraminifera and coccolithophores, exhibit negative responses, whereas some symbiont-bearing calcifiers respond positively, to increasing acidification. Seagrasses and brown macroalgae thrive under acidified conditions, with increasing rates of primary productivity. Some tropical coastal fish species are resilient, and in some species, respond positively, to acidification. Some tropical species show complex, nonlinear responses to declining pH and carbonate chemistry. Factors that influence the ability of a species to adapt to and/or resist acidification include food supply, nutrient availability, temperature, diet, interactions with symbionts and other organisms and species and community diversity. Interactive effects of ocean acidification with other climate change parameters, such as elevated temperature, play an important but poorly understood role in determining the resilience and vulnerability of tropical coastal species, communities and ecosystems. Some short-lived species can undergo acclimation and/or adaptive evolution to increase fitness in the face of acidification. Biota living in tropical estuarine and nearshore environments, such as mangroves, seagrasses and intertidal and subtidal inshore benthos, are unlikely to be significantly affected by future acidification as such environments exhibit very wide variations in water and sediment pH and carbonate chemistry. Nearly all tropical coastal environments exhibit significant CO2 efflux to the atmosphere due to pCO2 and [CO32-] oversaturation caused by high rates of respiration and factors linked to fluvial discharge. Except for coral reefs, most calcifying organisms and upwelling regions, tropical estuarine and inshore ecosystems unaffected by eutrophication and other anthropogenic problems should be resilient to future acidification.

Continue reading ‘Vulnerability and resilience of tropical coastal ecosystems to ocean acidification’

Seawater pH reconstruction using boron isotopes in multiple planktonic foraminifera species with different depth habitats and their potential to constrain pH and pCO2 gradients (update)

Boron isotope systematics of planktonic foraminifera from core-top sediments and culture experiments have been studied to investigate the sensitivity of δ11B of calcite tests to seawater pH. However, our knowledge of the relationship between δ11B and pH remains incomplete for many taxa. Thus, to expand the potential scope of application of this proxy, we report δ11B data for seven different species of planktonic foraminifera from sediment core tops. We utilize a method for the measurement of small samples of foraminifera and calculate the δ11B-calcite sensitivity to pH for Globigerinoides ruber, Trilobus sacculifer (sacc or without sacc), Orbulina universa, Pulleniatina obliquiloculata, Neogloboquadrina dutertrei, Globorotalia menardii, and Globorotalia tumida, including for unstudied core tops and species. These taxa have diverse ecological preferences and are from sites that span a range of oceanographic regimes, including some that are in regions of air–sea equilibrium and others that are out of equilibrium with the atmosphere. The sensitivity of δ11Bcarbonate to δ11Bborate (e.g., Δδ11Bcarbonate∕Δδ11Bborate) in core tops is consistent with previous studies for T. sacculifer and G. ruber and close to unity for N. dutertrei, O. universa, and combined deep-dwelling species. Deep-dwelling species closely follow the core-top calibration for O. universa, which is attributed to respiration-driven microenvironments likely caused by light limitation and/or symbiont–host interactions. Our data support the premise that utilizing boron isotope measurements of multiple species within a sediment core can be utilized to constrain vertical profiles of pH and pCO2 at sites spanning different oceanic regimes, thereby constraining changes in vertical pH gradients and yielding insights into the past behavior of the oceanic carbon pumps.

Continue reading ‘Seawater pH reconstruction using boron isotopes in multiple planktonic foraminifera species with different depth habitats and their potential to constrain pH and pCO2 gradients (update)’

Air-sea CO2 flux in an equatorial continental shelf dominated by coral reefs (Southwestern Atlantic Ocean)


•Air-sea CO2 fluxes and carbonate chemistry were investigated in coral reef-dominated waters (SW Atlantic).

•The relationship between nTA and nDIC evidenced occurrence of CaCO3 calcification in coral reefs.

•CaCO3 calcification increased the values of fCO2sw, and lowered the pHT and Ωara.

•Aquatic emissions of CO2 in coral reefs were higher than nearshore and offshore locations.

•The results have implications considering the carbon budget at the SW Atlantic Ocean.


Coral reefs are ecosystems highly vulnerable to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, including those related to the ocean acidification and global warming. Brazilian coral reefs contains the major area of reefs coverage in the Southwestern (SW) Atlantic Ocean, however, studies aimed at investigating the controls of seawater carbonate chemistry in coral reefs are still overlooked in Brazil. This study comprehends the first investigation of complete seawater carbonate chemistry parameters in a section of the equatorial continental shelf dominated by coral reefs in the SW Atlantic Ocean. The sampling included spatial continuous underway measurements of sea surface CO2 fugacity (fCO2sw), temperature (SST), salinity (SSS), and discrete investigations of total alkalinity (TA), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), bicarbonate (HCO3), carbonate (CO32−), and saturation state of aragonite (Ωara). The study was conducted during a dry period (July-2019) in the Marine State Park of Pedra da Risca do Meio (PRM), a marine protected area dominated by coral reef communities. Overall, the coral-reef dominated waters presented higher values of fCO2sw (475 ± 28 μatm), and lower values of pHT (7.98 ± 0.008), CO32− (217 ± 5 μmol kg-1) and Ωara (3.49 ± 0.07), compared to nearshore regions without the influence of coral reef waters, where the averages of fCO2sw, pHT, CO32−, and Ωarawere, respectively, 458 ± 21 μatm, 8.00 ± 0.007, 224 ± 4 μmol kg-1, and 3.58 ± 0.05. The relationship between salinity-normalized TA (nTA) and salinity-normalized DIC (nDIC) showed a slope higher than 1 (1.26) in the coral reef, evidencing the occurrence of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) precipitation and prevalence of inorganic carbon metabolism. The CaCO3 precipitation involves the consumption of TA and DIC in a ratio 2:1, with production of CO2. This mechanism explains the higher values of fCO2sw in the coral reef-dominated waters. The values of fCO2sw were always higher than the atmospheric values (fCO2air), indicating a permanent source of CO2 in the study area during the sampled period. The calculated fluxes of CO2 at the air-sea interface averaged 8.4 ± 6.5 mmolC m-2 d-1 in the coral reef-dominated waters, and these data are higher than those verified in nearshore and offshore locations. These higher emissions of CO2 in coral reef-dominated waters evidence that the carbon budgets calculated for North and Northeastern continental shelf of Brazil must include these environments taking into account the widespread coral reef coverage in the region. This study also confirms that biogeochemical processes occurring in coral reefs are modifying the seawater carbonate chemistry, with implication in the context of the current process of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Air-sea CO2 flux in an equatorial continental shelf dominated by coral reefs (Southwestern Atlantic Ocean)’

Interactive effects of pH and temperature on native and alien mussels from the west coast of South Africa

Global warming and ocean acidification influence marine calcifying organisms, particularly those with external shells. Among these, mussels may compensate for environmental changes by phenotypic plasticity, but this may entail trade-offs between shell deposition, growth and reproduction. We assessed main and interactive effects of pH and temperature on four mussel species on the west coast of South Africa (33°48′ S, 18°27′ E) in October 2012 by comparing shell dissolution, shell growth, shell breaking force and condition index of two native species, the ribbed mussel Aulacomya atra and the black mussel Choromytilus meridionalis, and two aliens, the Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis and the bisexual mussel Semimytilus algosus. Live mussels and dead shells were exposed for 42 days to seawater of pH 7.5 or 8.0, at 14 °C or 20 °C. Low pH, high temperature and their combination increased shell dissolution of the two aliens but their growth rates and condition indices remained unchanged. Aulacomya atra also experienced greater shell dissolution at a low pH and high temperature, but grew faster in low-pH treatments. For C. meridionalis, shell dissolution was unaffected by pH or temperature; it also grew faster in low-pH treatments, but had a lower condition index in the higher temperature treatment. Shell strength was not determined by thickness alone. In most respects, all four species proved to be robust to short-term reduction of pH and elevation of temperature, but the native species compensated for greater shell dissolution at low pH by increasing growth rate, whereas the aliens did not, so their invasive success cannot be ascribed to benefits accruing from climate change.

Continue reading ‘Interactive effects of pH and temperature on native and alien mussels from the west coast of South Africa’

Technical note: Seamless gas measurements across Land-Ocean Aquatic Continuum – corrections and evaluation of sensor data for CO2, CH4 and O2 from field deployments in contrasting environments

Comparatively the ocean and inland waters are two separate worlds, with concentrations in greenhouse gases having orders of magnitude in difference between the two. Together they create the Land-Ocean Aquatic Continuum (LOAC), which comprises itself largely of areas with little to no data in regards to understanding the global carbon system. Reasons for this include remote and inaccessible sample locations, often tedious methods that require collection of water samples and subsequent analysis in the lab, as well as the complex interplay of biological, physical and chemical processes. This has led to large inconsistencies, increasing errors and inevitably leading to potentially false upscaling. Here we demonstrate successful deployment in oceanic to remote inland regions, over extreme concentration ranges with multiple pre-existing oceanographic sensors combined set-up, allowing for highly detailed and accurate measurements. The set-up consists of sensors measuring pCO2pCH4 (both flow-through, membrane-based NDIR or TDLAS sensors), O2, and a thermosalinograph at high-resolution from the same water source simultaneously. The flexibility of the system allowed deployment from freshwater to open ocean conditions on varying vessel sizes, where we managed to capture day-night cycles, repeat transects and also delineate small scale variability. Our work demonstrates the need for increased spatiotemporal monitoring, and shows a way to homogenize methods and data streams in the ocean and limnic realms.

Continue reading ‘Technical note: Seamless gas measurements across Land-Ocean Aquatic Continuum – corrections and evaluation of sensor data for CO2, CH4 and O2 from field deployments in contrasting environments’

The effects of mining tailings in the physiology of benthic algae: understanding the relation between mud’s inductive acidification and the heavy metal’s toxicity


• Mariana’s mud was evaluated for toxic effects of heavy metals and acidification.

• Sargassum cymosum and Hypnea musciformis were evaluated for physiological responses.

• The presence of mud and acidic conditions caused lethality and metabolic damages.

• The acidified condition had the greatest impact over physiology of both species.

• The toxicity effects of mining tailings are intensified by abiotic changes.


The direct and indirect effects of mining tailing on macroalgae were evaluated in vitro to determine the relationship between heavy metals toxicity and pH alterations caused by the presence of pollutants. The marine brown seaweed Sargassum cymosum (C. Hagard 1820) and its main epiphytic alga, the red seaweed Hypnea pseudomusciformis (Nauer, Cassano, Oliveira, 2015), were exposed to Mariana’s mud in cross treatments, including presence or absence of mud, and normal (˜8.0) or acidic (˜7.0) pH conditions. The effects of different biological conditions were also evaluated in two treatments, with seaweed in isolated or associative conditions, for a seven-day period. The measured variables were growth rates and metabolic descriptors, such as chlorophyll a, phenolic compounds, total proteins, and the analysis of enzymatic activity, e.g. catalase (CAT), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX), and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Kruskal-Wallis and post-hoc Dunn’s test were performed to evaluate the significant differences among treatments and biological conditions. Decreased growth rates in treatments with presence of mud or in acidic conditions were detected and probably related to deviations of metabolic energy towards the synthesis of defensive metabolites. Especially in the acidified culture medium, both algae species presented significant declines in pigments concentration, antioxidant compounds and an accentuated inhibition of enzymatic activity. The algal association was not beneficial for either species and H. pseudomusciformis was responsible for reducing the defensive ability of Sargassum against stressors. Considering the results, we infer that the physiological ability of both algae to resist metals and/or acidified conditions was affected not only by their mutual interference in each other, but also by the interaction between the abiotic parameters evaluated in this study.

Continue reading ‘The effects of mining tailings in the physiology of benthic algae: understanding the relation between mud’s inductive acidification and the heavy metal’s toxicity’

Acid-base adjustments and first evidence of denticle corrosion caused by ocean acidification conditions in a demersal shark species

Global ocean acidification is expected to chronically lower the pH to 7.3 (>2200 µatm seawater pCO2) by the year 2300. Acute hypercapnia already occurs along the South African west and south coasts due to upwelling- and low-oxygen events, with increasing frequency. In the present project we investigated the impact of hypercapnia on the endemic demersal shark species Haploblepharus edwardsii. Specifically, we experimentally analysed acid-base regulation during acute and chronic hypercapnia, the effects of chronic hypercapnia on growth rates and on denticle structure- and composition. While H. edwardsii are physiologically well adapted to acute and chronic hypercapnia, we observed, for the first time, denticle corrosion as a result of chronic exposure. We conclude that denticle corrosion could increase denticle turnover and compromise hydrodynamics and skin protection.

Continue reading ‘Acid-base adjustments and first evidence of denticle corrosion caused by ocean acidification conditions in a demersal shark species’

Environmental factors influencing benthic communities in the oxygen minimum zones on the Angolan and Namibian margins

Thriving benthic communities were observed in the oxygen minimum zones along the southwestern African margin. On the Namibian margin, fossil cold-water coral mounds were overgrown by sponges and bryozoans, while the Angolan margin was characterized by cold-water coral mounds covered by a living coral reef. To explore why benthic communities differ in both areas, present-day environmental conditions were assessed, using conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) transects and bottom landers to investigate spatial and temporal variations of environmental properties. Near-bottom measurements recorded low dissolved oxygen concentrations on the Namibian margin of 0–0.15 mL L−1 (≜0 %–9 % saturation) and on the Angolan margin of 0.5–1.5 mL L−1 (≜7 %–18 % saturation), which were associated with relatively high temperatures (11.8–13.2 ∘C and 6.4–12.6 ∘C, respectively). Semidiurnal barotropic tides were found to interact with the margin topography producing internal waves. These tidal movements deliver water with more suitable characteristics to the benthic communities from below and above the zone of low oxygen. Concurrently, the delivery of a high quantity and quality of organic matter was observed, being an important food source for the benthic fauna. On the Namibian margin, organic matter originated directly from the surface productive zone, whereas on the Angolan margin the geochemical signature of organic matter suggested an additional mechanism of food supply. A nepheloid layer observed above the cold-water corals may constitute a reservoir of organic matter, facilitating a constant supply of food particles by tidal mixing. Our data suggest that the benthic fauna on the Namibian margin, as well as the cold-water coral communities on the Angolan margin, may compensate for unfavorable conditions of low oxygen levels and high temperatures with enhanced availability of food, while anoxic conditions on the Namibian margin are at present a limiting factor for cold-water coral growth. This study provides an example of how benthic ecosystems cope with such extreme environmental conditions since it is expected that oxygen minimum zones will expand in the future due to anthropogenic activities.

Continue reading ‘Environmental factors influencing benthic communities in the oxygen minimum zones on the Angolan and Namibian margins’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book