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Andersson, AJ, Mackenzie FT.  2012.  Revisiting four scientific debates in ocean acidification research. Biogeosciences. 9:893-905.   10.5194/bg-9-893-2012   AbstractWebsite

In recent years, ocean acidification has gained continuously increasing attention from scientists and a number of stakeholders and has raised serious concerns about its effects on marine organisms and ecosystems. With the increase in interest, funding resources, and the number of scientific investigations focusing on this environmental problem, increasing amounts of data and results have been produced, and a progressively growing and more rigorous understanding of this problem has begun to develop. Nevertheless, there are still a number of scientific debates, and in some cases misconceptions, that keep reoccurring at a number of forums in various contexts. In this article, we revisit four of these topics that we think require further thoughtful consideration including: (1) surface seawater CO2 chemistry in shallow water coastal areas, (2) experimental manipulation of marine systems using CO2 gas or by acid addition, (3) net versus gross calcification and dissolution, and (4) CaCO3 mineral dissolution and seawater buffering. As a summation of these topics, we emphasize that: (1) many coastal environments experience seawater pCO(2) that is significantly higher than expected from equilibrium with the atmosphere and is strongly linked to biological processes; (2) addition of acid, base or CO2 gas to seawater can all be useful techniques to manipulate seawater chemistry in ocean acidification experiments; (3) estimates of calcification or CaCO3 dissolution based on present techniques are measuring the net of gross calcification and dissolution; and (4) dissolution of metastable carbonate mineral phases will not produce sufficient alkalinity to buffer the pH and carbonate saturation state of shallow water environments on timescales of decades to hundreds of years to the extent that any potential negative effects on marine calcifiers will be avoided.

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.

Andersson, AJ, Mackenzie FT, Lerman A.  2006.  Coastal ocean CO(2)-carbonic acid-carbonate sediment system of the Anthropocene. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 20   10.1029/2005gb002506   AbstractWebsite

[1] There is little doubt that human activities such as burning of fossil fuels and land use practices have changed and will continue to change the cycling of carbon in the global coastal ocean. In the present study, two biogeochemical box models were used to investigate the consequences of increasing atmospheric CO(2) and subsequent ocean acidification and increasing riverine transport of organic matter and nutrients arising from human activities on land on the global coastal ocean between the years 1700 and 2300. Numerical simulations show that the net flux of CO(2) between coastal ocean surface water and the atmosphere is likely to change during this time from net evasion to net invasion owing to increasing atmospheric CO(2), increasing net ecosystem production arising from increasing nutrient loading to this region, and decreasing net ecosystem calcification due to lower carbonate ion concentration and subsequent lower surface water saturation state with respect to carbonate minerals. Model calculations show that surface water saturation state with respect to calcite will decrease 73% by the year 2300 under a business-as-usual scenario, which in concert with increasing temperature will cause overall biogenic calcification rate to decrease by 90%. Dissolution of carbonate minerals increased by 267% throughout the model simulation. This increase was in part due to increased invasion of atmospheric CO(2), but mainly due to greater deposition and remineralization of land-derived and in situ produced organic matter in the sediments, producing CO(2) that caused pore water pH and carbonate saturation state to decrease. This decrease, in turn, drove selective dissolution of metastable carbonate minerals. As a consequence, the relative carbonate composition of the sediments changed in favor of carbonate phases with lower solubility than that of an average 15 mol% magnesian calcite phase. Model projected changes in surface water carbonate saturation state agree well with observations from the Hawaiian Ocean Time series and the calculated air-sea CO(2) exchanged agrees well with a recent independent estimate of this flux derived from measurements from diverse coastal ecosystems scaled up to the global coastal ocean area.

Morse, JW, Andersson AJ, Mackenzie FT.  2006.  Initial responses of carbonate-rich shelf sediments to rising atmospheric pCO(2) and "ocean acidification": Role of high Mg-calcites. Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta. 70:5814-5830.   10.1016/j.gca.2006.08.017   AbstractWebsite

Carbonate-rich sediments at shoal to shelf depths (< 200 m) represent a major CaCO(3) reservoir that can rapidly react to the decreasing saturation state of seawater with respect to carbonate minerals, produced by the increasing partial pressure of atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO(2)) and "acidification" of ocean waters. Aragonite is usually the most abundant carbonate mineral in these sediments. However, the second most abundant (typically similar to 24 wt%) carbonate mineral is high Mg-calcite (Mg-calcite) whose solubility can exceed that of aragonite making it the "first responder" to the decreasing saturation state of seawater. For the naturally occurring biogenic Mg-calcites, dissolution experiments have been used to predict their "stoichiometric solubilities" as a function of mol% MgCO(3). The only valid relationship that one can provisionally use for the metastable stabilities for Mg-calcite based on composition is that for the synthetically produced phases where metastable equilibrium has been achieved from both under- and over-saturation. Biogenic Mg-calcites exhibit a large offset in solubility from that of abiotic Mg-calcite and can also exhibit a wide range of solubilities for biogenic Mg-calcites of similar Mg content. This indicates that factors other than the Mg content can influence the solubility of these mineral phases. Thus, it is necessary to turn to observations of natural sediments where changes in the saturation state of surrounding waters occur in order to determine their likely responses to the changing saturation state in upper oceanic waters brought on by increasing pCO(2). In the present study, we investigate the responses of Mg-calcites to rising pCO(2) and "ocean acidification" by means of a simple numerical model based on the experimental range of biogenic Mg-calcite solubilities as a function of Mg content in order to bracket the behavior of the most abundant Mg-calcite phases in the natural environment. In addition, observational data from Bermuda and the Great Bahama Bank are also presented in order to project future responses of these minerals. The numerical simulations suggest that Mg-calcite minerals will respond to rising pCO(2) by sequential dissolution according to mineral stability, progressively leading to removal of the more soluble phases until the least soluble phases remain. These results are confirmed by laboratory experiments and observations from Bermuda. As a consequence of continuous increases in atmospheric CO, from burning of fossil fuels, the average composition of contemporary carbonate sediments could change, i.e., the average Mg content in the sediments may slowly decrease. Furthermore, evidence from the Great Bahama Bank indicates that the amount of abiotic carbonate production is likely to decline as pCO(2) continues to rise. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Andersson, AJ, Mackenzie FT, Lerman A.  2005.  Coastal ocean and carbonate systems in the high CO(2) world of the anthropocene. American Journal of Science. 305:875-918.   10.2475/ajs.305.9.875   AbstractWebsite

The behavior of the ocean carbon cycle has been, and will continue to be, modified by the increase in atmospheric CO(2) due to fossil fuel combustion and land-use emissions of this gas. The consequences of a high-CO(2) world and increasing riverine transport of organic matter and nutrients arising from human activities were investigated by means of two biogeochemical box models. Model numerical simulations ranging from the year 1700 to 2300 show that the global coastal ocean changes from a net source to a net sink of atmospheric CO(2) over time; in the 18th and 19th centuries, the direction of the CO(2) flux was from coastal surface waters to the atmosphere, whereas at present or in the near future the net CO(2) flux is into coastal surface waters. These results agree well with recent syntheses of measurements of air-sea CO(2) exchange fluxes from various coastal ocean environments. The model calculations also show that coastal ocean surface water carbonate saturation state would decrease 46 percent by the year 2100 and 73 percent by 2300. Observational evidence from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans shows that die carbonate saturation state of surface ocean waters has already declined during recent decades. For atolls and other semi-enclosed carbonate systems, the rate of decline depends strongly on the residence time of the water in the system. Based on the experimentally observed positive relationship between saturation state and calcification rate for many calcifying organisms, biogenic production of CaCO(3) may decrease by 42 percent by the year 2100 and by 85 to 90 percent by 2300 relative to its value of about 24 x 10(12) moles C/yr in the year 2000. If the predicted change in carbonate production were to occur along with rising temperatures, it would make it difficult for coral reef and other carbonate systems, to exist as we know them now into future centuries. Because high-latitude, cold-water carbonates presently occur in waters closer to saturation with respect to carbonate minerals than the more strongly supersaturated waters of the lower latitudes, it might be anticipated that the cool-water carbonate systems might feel the effects of rising atmospheric CO(2) (and temperature) before those at lower latitudes. In addition, modeling results show that the carbonate saturation state of coastal sediment pore water will decrease in the future owing to a decreasing pore water pH and increasing CO(2) concentrations attributable to greater deposition and remineralization of land-derived and in situ produced organic matter in sediments. The lowered carbonate saturation state drives selective dissolution of metastable carbonate minerals while a metastable equilibrium is maintained between the pore water and the most soluble carbonate phase present in the sediments. In the future, the average composition of carbonate sediments and cements may change as the more soluble Mg-calcites and aragonite are preferentially dissolved and phases of lower solubility, such as calcites with lower magnesium content, increase in percentage abundance in the sediments.