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2018
Takeshita, Y, Cyronak T, Martz TR, Kindeberg T, Andersson AJ.  2018.  Coral reef carbonate chemistry variability at different functional scales. Frontiers in Marine Science. 5   10.3389/fmars.2018.00175   AbstractWebsite

There is a growing recognition for the need to understand how seawater carbonate chemistry over coral reef environments will change in a high-CO2 world to better assess the impacts of ocean acidification on these valuable ecosystems. Coral reefs modify overlying water column chemistry through biogeochemical processes such as net community organic carbon production (NCR) and calcification (NCC). However, the relative importance and influence of these processes on seawater carbonate chemistry vary across multiple functional scales (defined here as space, time, and benthic community composition), and have not been fully constrained. Here, we use Bermuda as a case study to assess (1) spatiotemporal variability in physical and chemical parameters along a depth gradient at a rim reef location, (2) the spatial variability of total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) over distinct benthic habitats to infer NCC:NCP ratios [< several km(2); rim reef vs. seagrass and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) sediments] on diel timescales, and (3) compare how TA-DIC relationships and NCC:NCP vary as we expand functional scales from local habitats to the entire reef platform (10's of km(2)) on seasonal to interannual timescales. Our results demonstrate that TA-DIC relationships were strongly driven by local benthic metabolism and community composition over diel cycles. However, as the spatial scale expanded to the reef platform, the TA-DIC relationship reflected processes that were integrated over larger spatiotemporal scales, with effects of NCC becoming increasingly more important over NCR. This study demonstrates the importance of considering drivers across multiple functional scales to constrain carbonate chemistry variability over coral reefs.

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.

2014
Andersson, AJ, Yeakel KL, Bates NR, de Putron SJ.  2014.  Partial offsets in ocean acidification from changing coral reef biogeochemistry. Nature Climate Change. 4:56-61.   10.1038/nclimate2050   AbstractWebsite

Concerns have been raised about how coral reefs will be affected by ocean acidification(1,2), but projections of future seawater CO2 chemistry have focused solely on changes in the pH and aragonite saturation state (Omega(a)) of open-ocean surface seawater conditions surrounding coral reefs(1-4) rather than the reef systems themselves. The seawater CO2 chemistry within heterogeneous reef systems can be significantly different from that of the open ocean depending on the residence time, community composition and the main biogeochemical processes occurring on the reef, that is, net ecosystem production (NEP = gross primary production autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration) and net ecosystem calcification (NEC = gross calcification gross CaCO3 dissolution), which combined act to modify seawater chemistry(5-7). On the basis of observations from the Bermuda coral reef, we show that a range of projected biogeochemical responses of coral reef communities to ocean acidification by the end of this century could partially offset changes in seawater pH and Omega(a) by an average of 12-24% and 15-31%, respectively.

2009
Andersson, AJ, Kuffner IB, Mackenzie FT, Jokiel PL, Rodgers KS, Tan A.  2009.  Net Loss of CaCO(3) from a subtropical calcifying community due to seawater acidification: mesocosm-scale experimental evidence. Biogeosciences. 6:1811-1823. AbstractWebsite

Acidification of seawater owing to oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO(2) originating from human activities such as burning of fossil fuels and land-use changes has raised serious concerns regarding its adverse effects on corals and calcifying communities. Here we demonstrate a net loss of calcium carbonate (CaCO(3)) material as a result of decreased calcification and increased carbonate dissolution from replicated subtropical coral reef communities (n=3) incubated in continuous-flow mesocosms subject to future seawater conditions. The calcifying community was dominated by the coral Montipora capitata. Daily average community calcification or Net Ecosystem Calcification (NEC=CaCO(3) production - dissolution) was positive at 3.3 mmol CaCO(3) m(-2) h(-1) under ambient seawater pCO(2) conditions as opposed to negative at -0.04 mmol CaCO(3) m(-2) h(-1) under seawater conditions of double the ambient pCO(2). These experimental results provide support for the conclusion that some net calcifying communities could become subject to net dissolution in response to anthropogenic ocean acidification within this century. Nevertheless, individual corals remained healthy, actively calcified (albeit slower than at present rates), and deposited significant amounts of CaCO(3) under the prevailing experimental seawater conditions of elevated pCO(2).

2007
Andersson, AJ, Bates NR, Mackenzie FT.  2007.  Dissolution of carbonate sediments under rising pCO(2) and ocean acidification: Observations from Devil's Hole, Bermuda. Aquatic Geochemistry. 13:237-264.   10.1007/s10498-007-9018-8   AbstractWebsite

Rising atmospheric pCO(2) and ocean acidification originating from human activities could result in increased dissolution of metastable carbonate minerals in shallow-water marine sediments. In the present study, in situ dissolution of carbonate sedimentary particles in Devil's Hole, Bermuda, was observed during summer when thermally driven density stratification restricted mixing between the bottom water and the surface mixed layer and microbial decomposition of organic matter in the subthermocline layer produced pCO(2) levels similar to or higher than those levels anticipated by the end of the 21st century. Trends in both seawater chemistry and the composition of sediments in Devil's Hole indicate that Mg-calcite minerals are subject to selective dissolution under conditions of elevated pCO(2). The derived rates of dissolution based on observed changes in excess alkalinity and estimates of vertical eddy diffusion ranged from 0.2 mmol to 0.8 mmol CaCO3 m(-2) h(-1). On a yearly basis, this range corresponds to 175-701 g CaCO3 m(-2) year(-1); the latter rate is close to 50% of the estimate of the current average global coral reef calcification rate of about 1,500 g CaCO3 m(-2) year(-1). Considering a reduction in marine calcification of 40% by the year 2100, or 90% by 2300, as a result of surface ocean acidification, the combination of high rates of carbonate dissolution and reduced rates of calcification implies that coral reefs and other carbonate sediment environments within the 21st and following centuries could be subject to a net loss in carbonate material as a result of increasing pCO(2) arising from burning of fossil fuels.

2003
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>2.0.co;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.