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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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This paper briefly reviews data assimilation techniques in carbon cycle data assimilation and the requirements of data assimilation systems on observations. We provide a non-exhaustive overview of current observations and their uncertainties for use in terrestrial carbon cycle data assimilation, focussing on relevant space-based observations.

Marko Scholze, Michael Buchwitz, Wouter Dorigo, Luis Guanter, and Shaun Quegan

We find that a big portion of the phytoplankton, zooplankton, and detrital organic matter produced near the northern African coast is laterally transported towards the open North Atlantic. This offshore flux sustains a relevant part of the biological activity in the open sea and reaches as far as the middle of the North Atlantic. Our results, obtained with a state-of-the-art model, highlight the fundamental role of the narrow but productive coastal ocean in sustaining global marine life.

Elisa Lovecchio, Nicolas Gruber, Matthias Münnich, and Zouhair Lachkar

We report regional-scale erosion of coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Pacific oceans determined by measuring changes in seafloor elevation. The magnitude of seafloor elevation loss has increased local sea level rise, causing water depths not predicted until near 2100, placing coastal communities at elevated and accelerating risk from hazards such as waves, storms, and tsunamis. Our results have broad implications for coastal resource and safety management.

Kimberly K. Yates, David G. Zawada, Nathan A. Smiley, and Ginger Tiling-Range

We ran a global ocean model to understand manganese (Mn), a biologically essential element. Our model shows that (i) in the deep ocean, dissolved [Mn] is mostly homogeneous ~0.10—0.15 nM. The model reproduces this with a threshold on MnO2 of 25 pM, suggesting a minimal particle concentration is needed before aggregation and removal become efficient. (ii) The observed distinct hydrothermal signals are produced by assuming both a strong source and a strong removal of Mn near hydrothermal vent.

Marco van Hulten, Rob Middag, Jean-Claude Dutay, Hein de Baar, Matthieu Roy-Barman, Marion Gehlen, Alessandro Tagliabue, and Andreas Sterl

The results of this study on the organic carbon (OC) stocks of tidal marshes show that variations in OC stocks along estuaries are important and should be taken into account to make accurate estimates of the total amount of OC stored in these ecosystems. Moreover, our results clearly show that most studies underestimate the variation in OC stocks along estuaries due to a shallow sampling depth, neglecting the variation in OC decomposition after burial along estuaries.

Marijn Van de Broek, Stijn Temmerman, Roel Merckx, and Gerard Govers

Marine biogeochemical models are often used to understand water quality, nutrient and blue-carbon dynamics at scales that range from estuaries and bays, through to the global ocean. We introduce a new methodology allowing for the assimilation of observed remote sensing reflectances, avoiding the need to use empirically derived chlorophyll-a concentrations. This method opens up the possibility to assimilate of reflectances from a variety of missions and potentially non-satellite platforms.

Emlyn M. Jones, Mark E. Baird, Mathieu Mongin, John Parslow, Jenny Skerratt, Jenny Lovell, Nugzar Margvelashvili, Richard J. Matear, Karen Wild-Allen, Barbara Robson, Farhan Rizwi, Peter Oke, Edward King, Thomas Schroeder, Andy Steven, and John Taylor

We performed an experiment in the Baltic Sea in order to investigate the consequences of the increasing CO2 levels on biological processes in the free water mass. There was more accumulation of organic carbon at high CO2 levels. Surprisingly, this was caused by reduced loss processes (respiration and bacterial production) in a high-CO2 environment, and not by increased photosynthetic fixation of CO2. Our carbon budget can be used to better disentangle the effects of ocean acidification.

Kristian Spilling, Kai G. Schulz, Allanah J. Paul, Tim Boxhammer, Eric P. Achterberg, Thomas Hornick, Silke Lischka, Annegret Stuhr, Rafael Bermúdez, Jan Czerny, Kate Crawfurd, Corina P. D. Brussaard, Hans-Peter Grossart, and Ulf Riebesell

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.

A. J. Sutton, C. L. Sabine, R. A. Feely, W.-J. Cai, M. F. Cronin, M. J. McPhaden, J. M. Morell, J. A. Newton, J.-H. Noh, S. R. Ólafsdóttir, J. E. Salisbury, U. Send, D. C. Vandemark, and R. A. Weller

We investigated the bloom onset in the Nordic Seas using 6 bio-optical floats. We found that the float data are consistent with two possible scenarios for the onset of blooms in the Nordic Seas. The Nordic Seas blooms could have started either when the light became sufficiently abundant that the division rates exceeded the loss rates, or when the photoperiod, the number of daily light hours experienced by phytoplankton, exceeded a critical value.

A. Mignot, R. Ferrari, and K. A. Mork

Future increases are predicted in the amount of nitrogen produced as manure or used as synthetic fertilizer in agriculture. However, the impact of climate on the subsequent fate of this nitrogen has not been evaluated. Here we describe, analyze and evaluate the FAN (flows of agricultural nitrogen) process model that simulates the the climate-dependent flows of nitrogen from agriculture. The FAN model is suitable for use within a global terrestrial climate model.

S. Riddick, D. Ward, P. Hess, N. Mahowald, R. Massad, and E. Holland

We simulated both fire pulses and stable fire regimes and found the resulting climatic impacts to be irreconcilable with equivalent amounts of CO2 emissions produced by fossil fuel combustion. Consequently, side-by-side comparisons of fire and fossil fuel CO2 emissions—implicitly implying that they have similar effects—should be avoided. Our study calls for the explicit representation of fire in climate models in order to improve our understanding of its impacts in the Earth system.

J.-S. Landry and H. D. Matthews

Drifting sediment traps were deployed in the oxygen-deficient waters of the Arabian Sea, where the sinking flux is less attenuated than in more oxic waters. Six mechanisms that might explain this "enhanced flux" were evaluated using literature and data. In the upper 500m, evidence was found supporting an oxygen effect and/or changes in the efficiency of the microbial loop, including the addition of chemoautotrophic carbon to the sinking flux.

R. G. Keil, J. A. Neibauer, C. Biladeau, K. van der Elst, and A. H. Devol

We investigate the properties of soils and sediments in a particular and ancient Siberian permafrost landscape. We critically examine statements from a recent study that specific permafrost landforms affected by thawed permafrost (alases) in this region contain very large quantities of peat that previous studies had failed to include because of data set biases. We conclude that there is no evidence to suggest biases in existing data sets or that alas deposits increase the northern peatland pool.

G. Hugelius, P. Kuhry, and C. Tarnocai

We present stable isotope proxy data and calcification records from fossil reef corals. The corals investigated derive from the Florida carbonate platform and are of middle Pliocene to early Pleistocene age. From the data we infer an environment subject to intermittent upwelling on annual to decadal timescales. Calcification rates were enhanced during periods of upwelling. This is likely an effect of dampened SSTs during the upwelling.

T. C. Brachert, M. Reuter, S. Krüger, J. Kirkerowicz, and J. S. Klaus

Although ranging among the most expensive gourmet foods, it remains unclear whether truffles accumulate radioactivity at a harmful level comparable to other fungi. Insignificant radiocaesium concentrations in specimens from Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, and Hungary provide an all-clear for truffle hunters and cultivators in Europe as well as dealers and customers from around the world.

U. Büntgen, M. Jäggi, U. Stobbe, W. Tegel, L. Sproll, J. Eikenberg, and S. Egli

In this study, we combine phytoplankton pigment data with particulate inorganic carbon and chlorophyll measurements from the satellite record to assess recent trends in phytoplankton dynamics in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, with a focus on coccolithophores. We show that coccolithophores in the North Atlantic have been increasing in abundance. Correlations suggest that they are responding positively to increasing inorganic carbon from anthropogenic inputs in the upper mixed layer.

K. M. Krumhardt, N. S. Lovenduski, N. M. Freeman, and N. R. Bates

Our interdisciplinary research brings together methodologies from hydrology, soil science and biogeochemistry to address key questions about the transport of cattle slurry in the environment. The paper provides a novel approach to trace dissolved and particulate components of cattle slurry through an experimental hillslope system. This work provides one of the first examples of using biomarkers to assess the effects of slope gradient and rainfall intensity on the movement of slurry derived-OM.

C. E. M. Lloyd, K. Michaelides, D. R. Chadwick, J. A. J. Dungait, and R. P. Evershed

The waters of the tropical Atlantic Open Ocean usually contain comparably high concentrations of oxygen. Now, it became clear that there are watermasses related to eddies that are nearly anoxic. We surveyed one of those eddies and found a biosphere that largely differed from the usual biosphere present in this area with a specific community responsible for primary production and for degradation processes. Further, we found the very first indication for active nitrogen loss in the open Atlantic.

C. R. Löscher, M. A. Fischer, S. C. Neulinger, B. Fiedler, M. Philippi, F. Schütte, A. Singh, H. Hauss, J. Karstensen, A. Körtzinger, S. Künzel, and R. A. Schmitz

This study investigates variations in the CO2 uptake of the ocean from year to year. These variations have been calculated from measurements of the surface-ocean carbon content by various different interpolation methods. The equatorial Pacific is estimated to be the region with the strongest year-to-year variations, tied to the El Nino phase. The global ocean CO2 uptake gradually increased from about the year 2000. The comparison of the interpolation methods identifies these findings as robust.

C. Rödenbeck, D. C. E. Bakker, N. Gruber, Y. Iida, A. R. Jacobson, S. Jones, P. Landschützer, N. Metzl, S. Nakaoka, A. Olsen, G.-H. Park, P. Peylin, K. B. Rodgers, T. P. Sasse, U. Schuster, J. D. Shutler, V. Valsala, R. Wanninkhof, and J. Zeng

In this review, we give an overview of the current state of knowledge regarding how permafrost thaw affects aquatic systems. We describe the general impacts of thaw on aquatic ecosystems, pathways of organic matter and contaminant release and degradation, resulting emissions and burial, and effects on ecosystem structure and functioning. We conclude with an overview of potential climate effects and recommendations for future research.

J. E. Vonk, S. E. Tank, W. B. Bowden, I. Laurion, W. F. Vincent, P. Alekseychik, M. Amyot, M. F. Billet, J. Canario, R. M. Cory, B. N. Deshpande, M. Helbig, M. Jammet, J. Karlsson, J. Larouche, G. MacMillan, M. Rautio, K. M. Walter Anthony, and K. P. Wickland

We found that dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in arctic soils and aquatic systems is increasingly degradable with increasing permafrost extent. Also, DOC seems less degradable when moving down the fluvial network in continuous permafrost regions, i.e. from streams to large rivers, suggesting that highly bioavailable DOC is lost in headwater streams. We also recommend a standardized DOC incubation protocol to facilitate future comparison on processing and transport of DOC in a changing Arctic.

J. E. Vonk, S. E. Tank, P. J. Mann, R. G. M. Spencer, C. C. Treat, R. G. Striegl, B. W. Abbott, and K. P. Wickland

We investigated the ability of cold-water corals to deal with changes in ocean pH. We uniquely combined morphological assessment with boron isotope analysis to determine if changes in growth are related to changes in control of calcification pH. We found that the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa can maintain the skeletal morphology, growth patterns as well as internal calcification pH. This has important implications for their future occurrence and explains their cosmopolitan distribution.

M. Wall, F. Ragazzola, L. C. Foster, A. Form, and D. N. Schmidt

We investigated an unusual ice type, called hair ice. It grows on the surface of dead wood of broad-leaf trees at temperatures slightly below 0°C.We describe this phenomenon and present our biological, physical and chemical investigations to gain insight in the properties and processes related to hair ice: we found, that a winter-acive fungus in the wood is required. Ice segregation is the common mechanism. Chemical analyses show a complex mixture of several thousand lignin/ tannin compounds.

D. Hofmann, G. Preuss, and C. Mätzler

Eleven years (2003-2013) of satellite data were processed to observe the variations in suspended particulate matter concentrations at the mouth of the Mackenzie River and estimate the fluxes exported into the Canadian Arctic Ocean. Results show that these concentrations at the river mouth, in the delta zone and in the river plume have increased by 46%, 71% and 33%, respectively, since 2003. This corresponds to a more than 50% increase in particulate export from the river into the Beaufort Sea.

D. Doxaran, E. Devred, and M. Babin

A large initial-condition ensemble suite of simulations with an Earth system model is applied to evaluate emergence characteristics of four ocean ecosystem drivers under climate change.  The drivers considered are warming, acidification, deoxygenation, and perturbations to biological productivity.  The spatial and temporal hierarchies of the emergence of these drivers are considered, using concepts of both time of emergence (ToE) and confidence intervals.

K. B. Rodgers, J. Lin, and T. L. Frölicher

Here we investigate how ecosystem carbon stocks vary with elevation shifting from the closed forest to open alpine tundra, in the mountains of southern Norway. Above-ground carbon stocks decreased with elevation, with a clear breakpoint at the forest line, while the organic horizon soil carbon stocks increased linearly with elevation. Overall, ecosystem carbon stocks increased with elevation above the treeline and decreased with elevation below, demonstrating the importance of the treeline.

J. D. M. Speed, V. Martinsen, A. J. Hester, Ø. Holand, J. Mulder, A. Mysterud, and G. Austrheim

We investigated the origin and mechanisms of the natural iron fertilization that sustains a phytoplankton bloom downstream of the Kerguelen Islands. We used radium isotopes to trace the fate of shelf waters that may transport iron and other micronutrients towards offshore waters. We show that shelf waters are rapidly transferred offshore and may be transported across the polar front (PF). The PF may thus not be a strong physical barrier for chemical elements released by the shelf sediments.

V. Sanial, P. van Beek, B. Lansard, M. Souhaut, E. Kestenare, F. d'Ovidio, M. Zhou, and S. Blain

Production of calcium carbonate by coral reefs is important in the global carbon cycle. Using a global framework we evaluate four models of reef calcification against observed values. The temperature-only model showed significant skill in reproducing coral calcification rates. The absence of any predictive power for whole reef systems highlights the importance of coral cover and the need for an ecosystem modelling approach accounting for population dynamics in terms of mortality and recruitment.

N. S. Jones, A. Ridgwell, and E. J. Hendy

This paper introduces a novel rainfall reduction experiment to investigate drought effects on soil-forest-understory-ecosystems. An annual drought with a return period of 40 years was imposed, while other ecosystem variables (humidity, air & soil temperature) remained unaffected. The first year of drought showed considerable changes in soil moisture dynamics, which affected leaf stomatal conductance of understory species as well as evapotranspiration rates of the forest understory ecosystem.

K. F. Gimbel, K. Felsmann, M. Baudis, H. Puhlmann, A. Gessler, H. Bruelheide, Z. Kayler, R. H. Ellerbrock, A. Ulrich, E. Welk, and M. Weiler

Different observational-based estimates of CO2 uptake and resulting acidification of the Mediterranean Sea vary widely. A new study finds that even the smallest of those are an upper limit because the approach used assumes air-sea CO2 equilibrium. Then with a lower limit from new fine-scale numerical model simulations, the authors bracket Mediterranean Sea CO2 uptake and acidification rates. They conclude that its rate of surface acidifcation is much like that for typical ocean waters.

J. Palmiéri, J. C. Orr, J.-C. Dutay, K. Béranger, A. Schneider, J. Beuvier, and S. Somot

This article describes a low-cost, easily set-up ocean acidification simulation system that reliably mimics the effects of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide on seawater chemistry. The accessible design of this system, along with our suggestions for the validation of pH control and characterisation of seawater chemistry, will enable researchers on a limited budget to generate high-quality, repeatable data documenting the response of marine organisms to ocean acidification.

C. D. MacLeod, H. L. Doyle, and K. I. Currie

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