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Yeakel, KL, Andersson AJ, Bates NR, Noyes TJ, Collins A, Garley R.  2015.  Shifts in coral reef biogeochemistry and resulting acidification linked to offshore productivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112:14512-14517.   10.1073/pnas.1507021112   AbstractWebsite

Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) has acidified open-ocean surface waters by 0.1 pH units since preindustrial times. Despite unequivocal evidence of ocean acidification (OA) via open-ocean measurements for the past several decades, it has yet to be documented in near-shore and coral reef environments. A lack of long-term measurements from these environments restricts our understanding of the natural variability and controls of seawater CO2-carbonate chemistry and biogeochemistry, which is essential to make accurate predictions on the effects of future OA on coral reefs. Here, in a 5-y study of the Bermuda coral reef, we show evidence that variations in reef biogeochemical processes drive interannual changes in seawater pH and Omega(aragonite) that are partly controlled by offshore processes. Rapid acidification events driven by shifts toward increasing net calcification and net heterotrophy were observed during the summers of 2010 and 2011, with the frequency and extent of such events corresponding to increased offshore productivity. These events also coincided with a negative winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index, which historically has been associated with extensive offshore mixing and greater primary productivity at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site. Our results reveal that coral reefs undergo natural interannual events of rapid acidification due to shifts in reef biogeochemical processes that may be linked to offshore productivity and ultimately controlled by larger-scale climatic and oceanographic processes.

Venti, A, Kadko D, Andersson AJ, Langdon C, Bates NR.  2012.  A multi-tracer model approach to estimate reef water residence times. Limnology and Oceanography-Methods. 10:1078-1095.   10.4319/lom.2012.10.1078   AbstractWebsite

We present a new method for obtaining the residence time of coral reef waters and demonstrate the successful application of this method by estimating rates of net ecosystem calcification (NEC) at four locations across the Bermuda platform and showing that the rates thus obtained are in reasonable agreement with independent estimates based on different methodologies. The contrast in Be-7 activity between reef and offshore waters can be related to the residence time of the waters over the reef through a time-dependent model that takes into account the rainwater flux of Be-7, the radioactive half-life of Be-7, and the rate of removal of Be-7 on particles estimated from Th-234. Sampling for Be-7 and Th-234 was conducted during the late fall and winter between 2008 and 2010. Model results yielded residence times ranging from 1.4 (+/- 0.7) days at the rim reef to 12 (+/- 4.0) days closer to shore. When combined with measurements of salinity-normalized total alkalinity anomalies, these residence times yielded platform-average NEC rates ranging from a maximum of 20.3 (+/- 7.0) mmolCaCO(3) m(-2) d(-1) in Nov 2008 to a minimum of 2.5 (+/- 0.8) mmolCaCO(3) m(-2) d(-1) in Feb 2009. The advantage of this new approach is that the rates of NEC obtained are temporally and spatially averaged. This novel approach for estimating NEC rates may be applicable to other coral reef ecosystems, providing an opportunity to assess how these rates may change in the context of ocean acidification.