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Cyronak, T, Andersson AJ, D'Angelo S, Bresnahan P, Davidson C, Griffin A, Kindeberg T, Pennise J, Takeshita Y, White M.  2018.  Short-term spatial and temporal carbonate chemistry variability in two contrasting seagrass meadows: Implications for pH buffering capacities. Estuaries and Coasts. 41:1282-1296.   10.1007/s12237-017-0356-5   AbstractWebsite

It has been hypothesized that highly productive coastal ecosystems, such as seagrass meadows, could lead to the establishment of ocean acidification (OA) refugia, or areas of elevated pH and aragonite saturation state (Omega(a)) compared to source seawater. However, seagrass ecosystems experience extreme variability in carbonate chemistry across short temporal and small spatial scales, which could impact the pH buffering capacity of these potential refugia. Herein, short-term (hourly to diel) and small-scale (across 0.01-0.14 km(2)) spatiotemporal carbonate chemistry variability was assessed within two seagrass meadows in order to determine their short-term potential to elevate seawater pH relative to source seawater. Two locations at similar latitudes were chosen in order to compare systems dominated by coarse calcium carbonate (Bailey's Bay, Bermuda) and muddy silicate (Mission Bay, CA, USA) sediments. In both systems, spatial variability of pH across the seagrass meadow at any given time was often greater than diel variability (e.g., the average range over 24 h) at any one site, with greater spatial variability occurring at low tide in Mission Bay. Mission Bay (spatial Delta pH = 0.08 +/- 0.08; diel Delta pH = 0.12 +/- 0.01; mean +/- SD) had a greater average range in both temporal and spatial seawater chemistry than Bailey's Bay (spatial Delta pH = 0.02 +/- 0.01; diel Delta pH = 0.03 +/- 0.00; mean +/- SD). These differences were most likely due to a combination of slower currents, a larger tidal range, and more favorable weather conditions for photosynthesis (e.g., sunny with no rain) in Mission Bay. In both systems, there was a substantial amount of time (usually at night) when seawater pH within the seagrass beds was lower relative to the source seawater. Future studies aimed at assessing the potential of seagrass ecosystems to act as OA refugia for marine organisms need to account for the small-scale, high-frequency carbonate chemistry variability in both space and time, as this variability will impact where and when OA will be buffered or intensified.

Eyre, BD, Cyronak T, Drupp P, DeCarlo EH, Sachs JP, Andersson AJ.  2018.  Coral reefs will transition to net dissolving before end of century. Science. 359:908-911.   10.1126/science.aao1118   AbstractWebsite

Ocean acidification refers to the lowering of the ocean's pH due to the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere. Coral reef calcification is expected to decrease as the oceans become more acidic. Dissolving calciumcarbonate (CaCO3) sands could greatly exacerbate reef loss associated with reduced calcification but is presently poorly constrained. Here we show that CaCO3 dissolution in reef sediments across five globally distributed sites is negatively correlated with the aragonite saturation state (War) of overlying seawater and that CaCO3 sediment dissolution is 10-fold more sensitive to ocean acidification than coral calcification. Consequently, reef sediments globally will transition from net precipitation to net dissolution when seawater War reaches 2.92 +/- 0.16 (expected circa 2050 CE). Notably, some reefs are already experiencing net sediment dissolution.

Cyronak, T, Andersson AJ, Langdon C, Albright R, Bates NR, Caldeira K, Carlton R, Corredor JE, Dunbar RB, Enochs I, Erez J, Eyre BD, Gattuso JP, Gledhill D, Kayanne H, Kline DI, Koweek DA, Lantz C, Lazar B, Manzello D, McMahon A, Melendez M, Page HN, Santos IR, Schulz KG, Shaw E, Silverman J, Suzuki A, Teneva L, Watanabe A, Yamamoto S.  2018.  Taking the metabolic pulse of the world's coral reefs. Plos One. 13   10.1371/journal.pone.0190872   AbstractWebsite

Worldwide, coral reef ecosystems are experiencing increasing pressure from a variety of anthropogenic perturbations including ocean warming and acidification, increased sedimentation, eutrophication, and overfishing, which could shift reefs to a condition of net calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolution and erosion. Herein, we determine the net calcification potential and the relative balance of net organic carbon metabolism (net community production; NCP) and net inorganic carbon metabolism (net community calcification; NCC) within 23 coral reef locations across the globe. In light of these results, we consider the suitability of using these two metrics developed from total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) measurements collected on different spatiotemporal scales to monitor coral reef biogeochemistry under anthropogenic change. All reefs in this study were net calcifying for the majority of observations as inferred from alkalinity depletion relative to offshore, although occasional observations of net dissolution occurred at most locations. However, reefs with lower net calcification potential (i.e., lower TA depletion) could shift towards net dissolution sooner than reefs with a higher potential. The percent influence of organic carbon fluxes on total changes in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) (i.e., NCP compared to the sum of NCP and NCC) ranged from 32% to 88% and reflected inherent biogeochemical differences between reefs. Reefs with the largest relative percentage of NCP experienced the largest variability in seawater pH for a given change in DIC, which is directly related to the reefs ability to elevate or suppress local pH relative to the open ocean. This work highlights the value of measuring coral reef carbonate chemistry when evaluating their susceptibility to ongoing global environmental change and offers a baseline from which to guide future conservation efforts aimed at preserving these valuable ecosystems.

Andersson, AJ, Mackenzie FT, Ver LM.  2003.  Solution of shallow-water carbonates: An insignificant buffer against rising atmospheric CO2. Geology. 31:513-516.   10.1130/0091-7613(2003)031<0513:soscai>;2   AbstractWebsite

Model predictions suggest that the saturation state of surface ocean waters with respect to carbonate minerals will decline during the twenty-first century owing to increased invasion of atmospheric CO2. As a result, calcareous organisms may have difficulty calcifying, leading to production of weaker skeletons and greater vulnerability to erosion. Alternatively, it has been suggested that there will be no significant impact on coral reef ecosystems because any changes in saturation state and pH will be restored by dissolution of metastable carbonate minerals. To resolve this controversy, we employ a physical-biogeochemical box model representative of the shallow-water ocean environment. Numerical simulations demonstrate that the carbonate saturation state of surface waters could significantly decrease and hamper the biogenic production of CaCO3 during the twenty-first century. Similarly, the average saturation state of marine pore waters could decline significantly, inducing dissolution of metastable carbonate phases within the pore-water-sediment system. Such dissolution could buffer the carbon chemistry of the pore waters, but overlying surface waters of reefs and other shallow-water carbonate environments will not accumulate sufficient alkalinity to buffer pH or carbonate saturation state changes owing to invasion of atmospheric CO2.