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Mackenzie, FT, Andersson AJ.  2013.  The marine carbon system and ocean acidification during Phanerozoic time. Geochemical Perspectives. 2:1-227.   10.7185/geochempersp.2.1   AbstractWebsite

The global CO2-carbonic acid-carbonate system of seawater, although certainly a well-researched topic of interest in the past, has risen to the fore in recent years because of the environmental issue of ocean acidification (often simply termed OA). Despite much previous research, there remain pressing questions about how this most important chemical system of seawater operated at the various time scales of the deep time of the Phanerozoic Eon (the past 545 Ma of Earth's history), interglacial-glacial time, and the Anthropocene (the time of strong human influence on the behaviour of the system) into the future of the planet. One difficulty in any analysis is that the behaviour of the marine carbon system is not only controlled by internal processes in the ocean, but it is intimately linked to the domains of the atmosphere, continental landscape, and marine carbonate sediments.

Bates, NR, Amat A, Andersson AJ.  2010.  Feedbacks and responses of coral calcification on the Bermuda reef system to seasonal changes in biological processes and ocean acidification. Biogeosciences. 7:2509-2530.   10.5194/bg-7-2509-2010   AbstractWebsite

Despite the potential impact of ocean acidification on ecosystems such as coral reefs, surprisingly, there is very limited field data on the relationships between calcification and seawater carbonate chemistry. In this study, contemporaneous in situ datasets of seawater carbonate chemistry and calcification rates from the high-latitude coral reef of Bermuda over annual timescales provide a framework for investigating the present and future potential impact of rising carbon dioxide (CO(2)) levels and ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems in their natural environment. A strong correlation was found between the in situ rates of calcification for the major framework building coral species Diploria labyrinthiformis and the seasonal variability of [CO(3)(2-)] and aragonite saturation state Omega(aragonite), rather than other environmental factors such as light and temperature. These field observations provide sufficient data to hypothesize that there is a seasonal 'Carbonate Chemistry Coral Reef Ecosystem Feedback' (CREF hypothesis) between the primary components of the reef ecosystem (i.e., scleractinian hard corals and macroalgae) and seawater carbonate chemistry. In early summer, strong net autotrophy from benthic components of the reef system enhance [CO(3)(2-)] and Omega(aragonite) conditions, and rates of coral calcification due to the photosynthetic uptake of CO(2). In late summer, rates of coral calcification are suppressed by release of CO(2) from reef metabolism during a period of strong net heterotrophy. It is likely that this seasonal CREF mechanism is present in other tropical reefs although attenuated compared to high-latitude reefs such as Bermuda. Due to lower annual mean surface seawater [CO(3)(2-)] and Omega(aragonite) in Bermuda compared to tropical regions, we anticipate that Bermuda corals will experience seasonal periods of zero net calcification within the next decade at [CO(3)(2-)] and Omega(aragonite) thresholds of similar to 184 mu moles kg(-1) and 2.65. However, net autotrophy of the reef during winter and spring (as part of the CREF hypothesis) may delay the onset of zero NEC or decalcification going forward by enhancing [CO(3)(2-)] and Omega(aragonite). The Bermuda coral reef is one of the first responders to the negative impacts of ocean acidification, and we estimate that calcification rates for D. labyrinthiformis have declined by > 50% compared to pre-industrial times.

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).

Jokiel, PL, Rodgers KS, Kuffner IB, Andersson AJ, Cox EF, Mackenzie FT.  2008.  Ocean acidification and calcifying reef organisms: a mesocosm investigation. Coral Reefs. 27:473-483.   10.1007/s00338-008-0380-9   AbstractWebsite

A long-term (10 months) controlled experiment was conducted to test the impact of increased partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO(2)) on common calcifying coral reef organisms. The experiment was conducted in replicate continuous flow coral reef mesocosms flushed with unfiltered sea water from Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Mesocosms were located in full sunlight and experienced diurnal and seasonal fluctuations in temperature and sea water chemistry characteristic of the adjacent reef flat. Treatment mesocosms were manipulated to simulate an increase in pCO(2) to levels expected in this century [midday pCO(2) levels exceeding control mesocosms by 365 +/- 130 mu atm (mean +/- sd)]. Acidification had a profound impact on the development and growth of crustose coralline algae (CCA) populations. During the experiment, CCA developed 25% cover in the control mesocosms and only 4% in the acidified mesocosms, representing an 86% relative reduction. Free-living associations of CCA known as rhodoliths living in the control mesocosms grew at a rate of 0.6 g buoyant weight year(-1) while those in the acidified experimental treatment decreased in weight at a rate of 0.9 g buoyant weight year(-1), representing a 250% difference. CCA play an important role in the growth and stabilization of carbonate reefs, so future changes of this magnitude could greatly impact coral reefs throughout the world. Coral calcification decreased between 15% and 20% under acidified conditions. Linear extension decreased by 14% under acidified conditions in one experiment. Larvae of the coral Pocillopora damicornis were able to recruit under the acidified conditions. In addition, there was no significant difference in production of gametes by the coral Montipora capitata after 6 months of exposure to the treatments.

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.