Posts Tagged 'South Atlantic'

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’

Reduced pH and elevated salinities affect the physiology of intertidal crab Minuca mordax (Crustacea, Decapoda)

Minuca mordax is a model for studies on ocean acidification and sea-level rise because lives in mangroves and riverbanks with low pH. We investigated the physiology of the crabs exposed to differents pH (6.5 and 5.8) and salinity (25, 30, 35, 40 45S). There was not mortality or alterations in the hypo-osmoregulation, suggesting that the factors did not affect salt absorption/secretion. Reduced pH changed metabolism, ammonia excretion, and hepatosomatic index in relation to the animals kept in control pH. At elevated salinities, metabolism increased when animals were kept in control pH, but it decreased when they were exposed to acidified pH. energy substrate, varied between proteins to a mixture of proteins and lipids. Important physiological parameters, related to the catabolism of amino acids and to the energy demand are changed and the consequences might include alterations in growth and reproduction due to the energy channeling to limiting processes of homeostasis.

Continue reading ‘Reduced pH and elevated salinities affect the physiology of intertidal crab Minuca mordax (Crustacea, Decapoda)’

Optimum satellite remote sensing of the marine carbonate system using empirical algorithms in the global ocean, the Greater Caribbean, the Amazon Plume and the Bay of Bengal


• Satellite salinity measurements enable estimation of surface carbonate parameters.

• Uncertainties within these observation-based estimates are well characterized.

• Monthly satellite salinity and temperature allows synoptic monitoring.

• Satellite observations allow study of seasonal, interannual and episodic variations.


Improving our ability to monitor ocean carbonate chemistry has become a priority as the ocean continues to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This long-term uptake is reducing the ocean pH; a process commonly known as ocean acidification. The use of satellite Earth Observation has not yet been thoroughly explored as an option for routinely observing surface ocean carbonate chemistry, although its potential has been highlighted. We demonstrate the suitability of using empirical algorithms to calculate total alkalinity (AT) and total dissolved inorganic carbon (CT), assessing the relative performance of satellite, interpolated in situ, and climatology datasets in reproducing the wider spatial patterns of these two variables. Both AT and CT in situ data are reproducible, both regionally and globally, using salinity and temperature datasets, with satellite observed salinity from Aquarius and SMOS providing performance comparable to other datasets for the majority of case studies. Global root mean squared difference (RMSD) between in situ validation data and satellite estimates is 17 μmol kg−1 with bias  < 5 μmol kg−1 for AT and 30 μmol kg−1 with bias  < 10 μmol kg−1 for CT. This analysis demonstrates that satellite sensors provide a credible solution for monitoring surface synoptic scale AT and CT. It also enables the first demonstration of observation-based synoptic scale AT and CT temporal mixing in the Amazon plume for 2010–2016, complete with a robust estimation of their uncertainty.

Continue reading ‘Optimum satellite remote sensing of the marine carbonate system using empirical algorithms in the global ocean, the Greater Caribbean, the Amazon Plume and the Bay of Bengal’

Ecotoxicological responses of a reef calcifier exposed to copper, acidification and warming: a multiple biomarker approach


• Copper increased bleaching, respiration and inhibited calcification-related enzymes.

• Thermal stress was the main driver of mortality.

• Relative tolerance to climate change scenario (ocean warming + acidification).

• Integrated biomarker response related more to co-exposures than isolated biomarkers.

• Integrated analysis showed higher stress under climate change + copper condition.


Multiple global and local stressors threat coral reefs worldwide, and symbiont-bearing foraminifera are bioindicators of reef health. The aim of this study was to investigate single and combined effects of copper (Cu) and climate change related stressors (ocean acidification and warming) on a symbiont-bearing foraminifer by means of an integrated biomarker analysis. Using a mesocosm approach, Amphistegina gibbosa were exposed for 25 days to acidification, warming and/or Cu contamination on a full orthogonal design (two levels each factor). Cu was the main factor increasing bleaching and respiration rates. Warming was the main cause of mortality and reduced growth. Calcification related enzymes were inhibited in response to Cu exposure and, in general, the inhibition was stronger under climate change. Multiple biological endpoints responded to realistic exposure scenarios in different ways, but evidenced general stress posed by climate change combined with Cu. These biological responses drove the high values found for the ‘stress index’ IBR (Integrated Biomarker Response) – indicating general organismal health impairment under the multiple stressor scenario. Our results provide insights for coral reef management by detecting potential monitoring tools. The ecotoxicological responses indicated that Cu reduces the tolerance of foraminifera to climate change (acidification + warming). Once the endpoints analysed have a high ecological relevance, and that responses were evaluated on a classical reef bioindicator species, these results highlight the high risk of climate change and metal pollution co-exposure to coral reefs. Integrated responses allowed a better effects comprehension and are pointed as a promising tool to monitor pollution effects on a changing ocean.

Continue reading ‘Ecotoxicological responses of a reef calcifier exposed to copper, acidification and warming: a multiple biomarker approach’

Control of CaCO3 dissolution at the deep seafloor and its consequences

Prediction of the neutralization of anthropogenic CO2 in the oceans and the interpretation of the calcite record preserved in deep-sea sediments requires the use of the correct kinetics for calcite dissolution. Dissolution rate information from suspended calcite-grain experiments consistently indicates a high-order nonlinear dependence on undersaturation, with a well-defined rate constant. Conversely, stirred-chamber and rotating-disc dissolution experiments consistently indicate linear kinetics of dissolution and a strong dependence on the fluid flow velocity. Here, we resolve these seeming incongruities and establish reliably the kinetic controls on deep-sea calcite dissolution. By equating the carbonate-ion flux from a dissolving calcite bed, governed by laboratory-based nonlinear kinetics, to the flux across typical diffusive boundary layers (DBL) at the seafloor, we show that the net flux is influenced both by boundary layer and bed processes, but that flux is strongly dominated by the rate of diffusion through the DBL. Furthermore, coupling that calculation to an equation for the calcite content of the seafloor, we show that a DBL-transport dominated model adeptly lysoclines adeptly, i.e., CaCO3 vs ocean depth profiles, observed across the oceans. Conversely, a model with only sediment-side processes fails to predict lysoclines in all tested regions. Consequently, the past practice of arbitrarily altering the calcite-dissolution rate constant to allow sediment-only models to fit calcite profiles constitutes confirmation bias. From these results, we hypothesize that the reason suspended-grain experiments and bed experiments yield different reaction orders is that dissolution rates of individual grains in a bed are fast enough to maintain porewaters at or close to saturation, so that the exact reaction order cannot be measured and dissolution appears to be linear. Finally, we provide a further test of DBL-transport dominated calcite dissolution by successfully predicting, not fitting, the in-situ pH profiles observed at four stations reported in the literature.

Continue reading ‘Control of CaCO3 dissolution at the deep seafloor and its consequences’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book