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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Biogeosciences, 13, 5065-5083, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-5065-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
13 Sep 2016
Using present-day observations to detect when anthropogenic change forces surface ocean carbonate chemistry outside preindustrial bounds
Adrienne J. Sutton1,2, Christopher L. Sabine2, Richard A. Feely2, Wei-Jun Cai3, Meghan F. Cronin2, Michael J. McPhaden2, Julio M. Morell4, Jan A. Newton5, Jae-Hoon Noh6, Sólveig R. Ólafsdóttir7, Joseph E. Salisbury8, Uwe Send9, Douglas C. Vandemark8, and Robert A. Weller10 1Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
2Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
3School of Marine Science and Policy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
4Department of Marine Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, 00681, Puerto Rico
5Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98105, USA
6Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, Ansan Gyunggido 15627, South Korea
7Marine Research Institute, Skulagata 4, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
8Ocean Processes Analysis Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03825, USA
9Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
10Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
Abstract. One of the major challenges to assessing the impact of ocean acidification on marine life is detecting and interpreting long-term change in the context of natural variability. This study addresses this need through a global synthesis of monthly pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) climatologies for 12 open ocean, coastal, and coral reef locations using 3-hourly moored observations of surface seawater partial pressure of CO2 and pH collected together since as early as 2010. Mooring observations suggest open ocean subtropical and subarctic sites experience present-day surface pH and Ωarag conditions outside the bounds of preindustrial variability throughout most, if not all, of the year. In general, coastal mooring sites experience more natural variability and thus, more overlap with preindustrial conditions; however, present-day Ωarag conditions surpass biologically relevant thresholds associated with ocean acidification impacts on Mytilus californianusarag < 1.8) and Crassostrea gigasarag < 2.0) larvae in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) and Mya arenaria larvae in the Gulf of Maine (Ωarag < 1.6). At the most variable mooring locations in coastal systems of the CCE, subseasonal conditions approached Ωarag =  1. Global and regional models and data syntheses of ship-based observations tended to underestimate seasonal variability compared to mooring observations. Efforts such as this to characterize all patterns of pH and Ωarag variability and change at key locations are fundamental to assessing present-day biological impacts of ocean acidification, further improving experimental design to interrogate organism response under real-world conditions, and improving predictive models and vulnerability assessments seeking to quantify the broader impacts of ocean acidification.

Citation: Sutton, A. J., Sabine, C. L., Feely, R. A., Cai, W.-J., Cronin, M. F., McPhaden, M. J., Morell, J. M., Newton, J. A., Noh, J.-H., Ólafsdóttir, S. R., Salisbury, J. E., Send, U., Vandemark, D. C., and Weller, R. A.: Using present-day observations to detect when anthropogenic change forces surface ocean carbonate chemistry outside preindustrial bounds, Biogeosciences, 13, 5065-5083, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-5065-2016, 2016.
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Short summary
Ocean carbonate observations from surface buoys reveal that marine life is currently exposed to conditions outside preindustrial bounds at 12 study locations around the world. Seasonal conditions in the California Current Ecosystem and Gulf of Maine also exceed thresholds that may impact shellfish larvae. High-resolution observations place long-term change in the context of large natural variability: a necessary step to understand ocean acidification impacts under real-world conditions.
Ocean carbonate observations from surface buoys reveal that marine life is currently exposed to...
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