Posts Tagged 'South Pacific'

Autonomous in situ calibration of ion‐sensitive field effect transistor pH sensors

Ion‐sensitive field effect transistor‐based pH sensors have been shown to perform well in high frequency and long‐term ocean sampling regimes. The Honeywell Durafet is widely used due to its stability, fast response, and characterization over a large range of oceanic conditions. However, potentiometric pH monitoring is inherently complicated by the fact that the sensors require careful calibration. Offsets in calibration coefficients have been observed when comparing laboratory to field‐based calibrations and prior work has led to the recommendation that an in situ calibration be performed based on comparison to discrete samples. Here, we describe our work toward a self‐calibration apparatus integrated into a SeapHOx pH, dissolved oxygen, and CTD sensor package. This Self‐Calibrating SeapHOx is capable of autonomously recording calibration values from a high quality, traceable, primary reference standard: equimolar tris buffer. The Self‐Calibrating SeapHOx’s functionality was demonstrated in a 6‐d test in a seawater tank at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (La Jolla, California, U.S.A.) and was successfully deployed for 2 weeks on a shallow, coral reef flat (Lizard Island, Australia). During the latter deployment, the tris‐based self‐calibration using 15 on‐board samples exhibited superior reproducibility to the standard spectrophotometric pH‐based calibration using > 100 discrete samples. Standard deviations of calibration pH using tris ranged from 0.002 to 0.005 whereas they ranged from 0.006 to 0.009 for the standard spectrophotometric pH‐based method; the two independent calibration methods resulted in a mean pH difference of 0.008. We anticipate that the Self‐Calibrating SeapHOx will be capable of autonomously providing climate quality pH data, directly linked to a primary seawater pH standard, and with improvements over standard calibration techniques.

Continue reading ‘Autonomous in situ calibration of ion‐sensitive field effect transistor pH sensors’

Abundances and morphotypes of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi in southern Patagonia compared to neighboring oceans and northern-hemisphere fjords

Coccolithophores are potentially affected by ongoing ocean acidification, where rising CO2 lowers seawater pH and calcite saturation state (Ωcal). Southern Patagonian fjords and channels provide natural laboratories for studying these issues due to high variability in physical and chemical conditions. We surveyed coccolithophore assemblages in Patagonian fjords during late-spring 2015 and early-spring 2017. Surface Ωcal exhibited large variations driven mostly by freshwater inputs. High Ωcal conditions (max. 3.6) occurred in the Archipelago Madre de Dios. Ωcal ranged from 2.0–2.6 in the western Strait of Magellan, 1.5–2.2 in the Inner Channel, and was sub-saturating (0.5) in Skyring Sound. Emiliania huxleyi was the only coccolithophore widely distributed in Patagonian fjords (> 96 % of total coccolitophores), only disappearing in the Skyring Sound, a semi-closed mesohaline system. Correspondence analysis associated higher E. huxleyi biomasses with lower diatom biomasses. The highest E. huxleyi abundances in Patagonia were in the lower range of those reported in Norwegian fjords. Predominant morphotypes were distinct from those previously documented in nearby oceans but similar to those of Norwegian fjords. Moderate-calcified forms of E. huxleyi A morphotype were uniformly distributed throughout Patagonia fjords. The exceptional R/hyper-calcified coccoliths, associated with low Ωcal values in Chilean and Peruvian coastal upwellings, were a minor component associated with high Ωcal levels in Patagonia. Outlying mean index (OMI) niche analysis suggested that pH/Ωcal conditions explained most variation in the realized niches of E. huxleyi morphotypes. The moderate-calcified A morphotype exhibited the widest niche-breadth (generalist), while the R/hyper-calcified morphotype exhibited a more restricted realized niche (specialist). Nevertheless, when considering an expanded sampling domain, including nearby Southeast Pacific coastal and offshore waters, even the R/hyper-calcified morphotype exhibited a higher niche breadth than other closely phylogenetically-related coccolithophore species. The occurrence of E. huxleyi in naturally low pH/Ωcal environments indicates that its ecological response is plastic and capable of adaptation.

Continue reading ‘Abundances and morphotypes of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi in southern Patagonia compared to neighboring oceans and northern-hemisphere fjords’

Thermal stress reduces pocilloporid coral resilience to ocean acidification by impairing control over calcifying fluid chemistry

The combination of thermal stress and ocean acidification (OA) can more negatively affect coral calcification than an individual stressors, but the mechanism behind this interaction is unknown. We used two independent methods (microelectrode and boron geochemistry) to measure calcifying fluid pH (pHcf) and carbonate chemistry of the corals Pocillopora damicornis and Stylophora pistillata grown under various temperature and pCO2 conditions. Although these approaches demonstrate that they record pHcf over different time scales, they reveal that both species can cope with OA under optimal temperatures (28°C) by elevating pHcf and aragonite saturation state (Ωcf) in support of calcification. At 31°C, neither species elevated these parameters as they did at 28°C and, likewise, could not maintain substantially positive calcification rates under any pH treatment. These results reveal a previously uncharacterized influence of temperature on coral pHcf regulation—the apparent mechanism behind the negative interaction between thermal stress and OA on coral calcification.

Continue reading ‘Thermal stress reduces pocilloporid coral resilience to ocean acidification by impairing control over calcifying fluid chemistry’

Life-long coral skeletal acclimatization at CO2 vents in Papua New Guinea reveals species- and environment-specific effects

The responses of corals and other marine calcifying organisms to ocean acidification (OA) are variable and span from no effect to severe responses. Here we investigated the effect of long-term exposure to OA on skeletal parameters of four tropical zooxanthellate corals living at two CO2 vents in Papua New Guinea, namely in Dobu and Upa Upasina. The skeletal porosity of Galaxea fascicularisAcropora millepora, and Pocillopora damicornis was higher (from 17% to 38%, depending on the species) at the seep site compared to the control only at Upa Upasina. Massive Porites showed no differences at any of the locations. Pocillopora damicornis also showed a ~ 7% decrease of micro-density and an increase of the volume fraction of the larger pores, a decrease of the intraskeletal organic matrix content with an increase of the intraskeletal water content, and no variation in the organic matrix related strain and crystallite size. The fact that the skeletal parameters varied only at one of the two seep sites suggests that other local environmental conditions interact with OA to modify the coral skeletal parameters. This might also contribute to explain the great deal of responses to OA reported for corals and other marine calcifying organisms.

Continue reading ‘Life-long coral skeletal acclimatization at CO2 vents in Papua New Guinea reveals species- and environment-specific effects’

Potential acclimatization and adaptive responses of adult and trans-generation coral larvae from a naturally acidified habitat

Coral reefs are one of the most susceptible ecosystems to ocean acidification (OA) caused by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). OA is suspected to impact the calcification rate of corals as well as multiple early life stages including larval and settlement stages. Meanwhile, there is now a strong interest in evaluating if organisms have the potential for acclimatization or adaptation to OA. Here, by taking advantage of a naturally acidified site in Nikko Bay, Palau where corals are presumably exposed to high CO2 conditions for their entire life history, we tested if adult and the next-generation larvae of the brooder coral Pocillopora acuta originating from the high-CO2 site are more tolerant to high CO2 conditions compared to the individuals from a control site. Larvae released from adults collected from the high-CO2 site within the bay and a control site outside the bay were reciprocally cultivated under experimental control or high-CO2 seawater conditions to evaluate their physiology. Additionally, reciprocal transplantation of adult P. acuta corals were conducted between the high-CO2 and control sites in the field. The larvae originating from the control site showed lower Chlorophyll-a content and lipid percentages when reared under high-CO2 compared to control seawater conditions, while larvae originating from the high-CO2 site did not. Additionally, all 10 individuals of adult P. acuta from control site died when transplanted within the bay, while all P. acuta corals within the bay survived at both control and high-CO2 site. Furthermore, P. acuta within the bay showed higher calcification and net photosynthesis rates when exposed to the condition they originated from. These results are one of the first results that indicate the possibility that the long-living corals could enable to show local adaptation to different environmental conditions including high seawater pCO(2).

Continue reading ‘Potential acclimatization and adaptive responses of adult and trans-generation coral larvae from a naturally acidified habitat’

Futureproofing the green-lipped mussel aquaculture industry against ocean acidification

Two mitigation strategies – waste shell and aeration – were tested in field experiments to see how effective they are at mitigating acidification around mussel farms. This report outlines the results and recommendations from this research. 

Primary results:

  • The inner Firth of Thames currently experiences the lowest seasonal pH of the sites monitored, with a daily minimum of 7.84 (7.79–7.96) in autumn, with short-term (15-minute) pH minima as low as 7.2. Time-series data in the inner and outer Firth of Thames, and also on a mussel farm in the western Firth, show episodic declines in carbonate saturation to the critical carbonate saturation state ΩAR = 1.0 at which solid aragonite (the form of carbonate in mussel shells) will start to dissolve. Consequently, mussels in the Firth of Thames experience episodic corrosive conditions.
  • The mean pH in the Marlborough Sounds region is projected to decrease by 0.15–0.4 by 2100 depending on future emission scenario. The corresponding decline of 0.5–1.25 in the saturation state of aragonite (ΩAR), results in the critical threshold of ΩAR =1 being reached by 2100 under the worst-case scenario. These projections are based only on future CO2 emission scenarios and do not consider other coastal sources of acidity in coastal waters which may also alter in the future.

Continue reading ‘Futureproofing the green-lipped mussel aquaculture industry against ocean acidification’

Physiological responses to temperature and ocean acidification in tropical fleshy macroalgae with varying affinities for inorganic carbon

Marine macroalgae have variable carbon-uptake strategies that complicate predicting responses to environmental changes. In seawater, dissolved inorganic carbon availability can affect the underlying physiological mechanisms influencing carbon uptake. We tested the interactive effects of ocean acidification (OA) and warming on two HCO−3HCO3−-users (Lobophora sp. and Amansia rhodantha), a predominately CO2-user (Avrainvillea nigricans), and a sole CO2-user (Plocamium hamatum) in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. We examined metabolic rates, growth, and carbon isotope values (δ13C) in algae at 26, 28, or 30°C under ambient or elevated pCO2 (∼1000 µatm). Under OA, δ13C values for the HCO−3HCO3−-users decreased, indicating less reliance on HCO−3HCO3−⁠, while δ13C values for CO2-users were unaffected. Both HCO−3HCO3−-users decreased in growth across temperatures under ambient pCO2, but this negative effect was alleviated by OA at 30°C. A. nigricans lost biomass across all treatments and P. hamatum was most sensitive, with reduced survival in all physiological responses. Metabolic rates varied greatly to interacting temperature and OA and indicated a decoupling between the relationship of photosynthesis and growth. Furthermore, our findings suggest HCO−3HCO3−-users are more responsive to future CO2 changes, and highlight examining carbon physiology to infer potential responses to interacting environmental stressors.

Continue reading ‘Physiological responses to temperature and ocean acidification in tropical fleshy macroalgae with varying affinities for inorganic carbon’

Climate change doubles sedimentation-induced coral recruit mortality


  • Recruits grown under future climate are twice as sensitive to sediment deposition
  • Older recruits survived higher sediment depositions events
  • Only recruits grown in current climate survived the highest realistic sedimentation


Coral reef replenishment is threatened by global climate change and local water-quality degradation, including smothering of coral recruits by sediments generated by anthropogenic activities. Here we show that the ability of Acropora millepora recruits to remove sediments diminishes under future climate conditions, leading to increased mortality. Recruits raised under future climate scenarios for fourteen weeks (highest treatment: +1.2 °C, pCO2: 950 ppm) showed twofold higher mortality following repeated sediment deposition (50% lethal sediment concentration LC50: 14 – 24 mg cm-2) compared to recruits raised under current climate conditions (LC50: 37 – 51 mg cm-2), depending on recruit age at the time of sedimentation. Older and larger recruits were more resistant to sedimentation and only ten-week-old recruits grown under current climate conditions survived sediment loads typical of dredging operations. This demonstrates that water-quality guidelines for managing sediment concentrations will need to be climate-adjusted to protect future coral recruitment.

Continue reading ‘Climate change doubles sedimentation-induced coral recruit mortality’

The influence of pCO2-driven ocean acidification on open ocean bacterial communities during a short-term microcosm experiment in the Eastern Tropical South Pacific (ETSP) off Northern Chile

Due to the increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions, Ocean Acidification (OA) is progressing rapidly around the world. Despite the major role that microorganisms play on the marine biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem functioning, the response of bacterial communities upon OA scenarios is still not well understood. Here, we have conducted a detailed characterization of the composition and relative abundance of bacterial communities in the water column of an open-ocean station in the Eastern Tropical South Pacific (ETSP) off northern Chile and their interactions with environmental factors. In addition, through a short-term microcosm experiment, we have assessed the effect of low pH/high pCO2 conditions over the abundance and genetic diversity of bacterial communities. Our results evidence a clear partitioning of community composition that could be attributed mostly to dissolved oxygen. However, our experimental approach demonstrated that low pH/high pCO2 conditions might modify the structure of the bacterial community, evidencing that small changes in pH may impact significantly the abundance and diversity of key microorganisms. This study constitutes a first step aiming to provide insight about the influence of changing carbonate chemistry conditions on natural bacterial communities and to shed light on the potential impact of OA in biogeochemical cycles on the ETSP region.

Continue reading ‘The influence of pCO2-driven ocean acidification on open ocean bacterial communities during a short-term microcosm experiment in the Eastern Tropical South Pacific (ETSP) off Northern Chile’

Ocean warming and acidification uncouple calcification from calcifier biomass which accelerates coral reef decline

Global climate change will drive declines in coral reefs over coming decades. Yet, the relative role of temperature versus acidification, and the ability of resultant ecosystems to retain core services such as coastal protection, are less clear. Here, we investigate changes to the net chemical balances of calcium carbonate within complex experimental coral reefs over 18 months under conditions projected for 2100 if CO2 emissions continue unmitigated. We reveal a decoupling of calcifier biomass and calcification under the synergistic impact of warming and acidification, that combined with increased night-time dissolution, leads to an accelerated loss of carbonate frameworks. Climate change induced degradation will limit the ability of coral reefs to keep-up with sea level rise, possibly for thousands of years. We conclude that instead of simply transitioning to alternate states that are capable of buffering coastlines, reefs are at risk of drowning leading to critical losses in ecosystem functions.

Continue reading ‘Ocean warming and acidification uncouple calcification from calcifier biomass which accelerates coral reef decline’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book