U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 748
1U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg, Fla.
2University of South Florida, Department of Geology, Tampa, Fla.
3U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole, Mass.
4National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Md.
5University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.
6National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Durham, N.H.
7University of South Florida, College of Marine Science, St. Petersburg, Fla.
U.S. Department of the
U.S. Geological Survey
St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
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Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is absorbed at the surface of the ocean by reacting with seawater to form a weak, naturally occurring acid called carbonic acid. As atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, the concentration of carbonic acid in seawater also increases, causing a decrease in ocean pH and carbonate mineral saturation states, a process known as ocean acidification. The oceans have absorbed approximately 525 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or about one-quarter to one-third of the anthropogenic carbon emissions released since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (Sabine and others, 2004). Global surveys of ocean chemistry have revealed that seawater pH has decreased by about 0.1 units (from a pH of 8.2 to 8.1) since the 1700s due to absorption of carbon dioxide (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003; Orr and others, 2005; Raven and others, 2005). Modeling studies, based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) CO2 emission scenarios, predict that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could reach more than 500 parts per million (ppm) by the middle of this century and 800 ppm by the year 2100, causing an additional decrease in surface water pH of 0.3 pH units. Ocean acidification is a global threat and is already having profound and deleterious effects on the geology, biology, chemistry, and socioeconomic resources of coastal and marine habitats (Raven and others, 2005; Ruttiman, 2006). The polar and sub-polar seas have been identified as the bellwethers for global ocean acidification.
A number of studies have shown that decreased pH and mineral saturation state impair the ability of many fish and shellfish to grow and will affect many parts of the food chain from primary producers to higher trophic organisms (Comeau and others, 2009). High-latitude marine organisms often exhibit low metabolic rates and very slow development and growth rates when compared with similar taxa at middle or low latitudes (Fabry and others, 2009). Because of their prolonged lifetimes, fewer generations will have opportunities for successful acclimation or adaptation to seawater that will become progressively elevated in dissolved CO2. Although many physiological processes in diverse organisms may be affected by rising ocean acidity, it has been suggested that the declining carbonate mineral saturation states of aragonite and calcite in surface waters, and establishment of corrosive conditions in some regions may impact high-latitude planktonic and benthic calcifiers (Comeau and others, 2009; Fabry and others, 2009). Because of these factors, marine food supplies could be reduced with significant implications for food production and security for indigenous populations that are dependent on fish protein.
From August 15 to September 28, 2011, the United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Healy was part of an Extended Continental Shelf Project to determine the limits of the extended continental shelf in the Arctic. On a non-interference basis, a USGS ocean acidification team participated on the cruise to collect baseline water data in the Arctic. The collection of data extended from coastal waters near Barrow, Alaska, to 88 27.46'N. 159 22.05'E., and southward, just west of the Canadian archipelago back to coastal waters near Barrow and on to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. As a consequence, a number of hypotheses were tested and questions asked associated with ocean acidification, including:
During the cruise, underway continuous and discrete water samples were collected to document the carbonate chemistry of the Arctic waters and quantify the saturation state of seawater with respect to calcium carbonate. These data are critical for testing existing models for which few baseline data are available for validation of model results.
Collaborating with the University of South Florida (USF), the USGS used a state of the art flow-through Multiparameter Inorganic Carbon Analyzer (MICA) (Wang and others, 2007). The MICA collected continuous measurements every 7 minutes (min) of pCO2, pH, and total carbon (TCO2) in seawater. In addition, discrete samples were collected approximately every 2 hours (h) for on-board measurement of pH. Every 4 h and during Niskin casts, samples that were collected for analyses to be performed land-side included water for total alkalinity (TA) and TCO2, nutrients, oxygen and carbon isotopes, metals/major ions, dissolved organic carbon, and particulate inorganic carbon. Further, microbial community and micro-organismal water samples were collected at discrete depths from Niskin casts. The land-side analyses are not reported here. During the cruise, instrumentation on the USCGC Healy continuously recorded temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, CDOM, pCO2, and fluorescence of surface water, and also during vertical casts of a Niskin Rosette.
Robbins, L.L., Yates, K.K., Knorr, P.O., Wynn, Jonathan, Lisle, John, Buczkowski, Brian, Moore, Barbara, Mayer, Larry, Armstrong, Andrew, Byrne, R.H., and Liu, Xuewu, 2013, USGS Arctic Ocean carbon cruise 2011 (ver. 1.1, April 2014): Field activity H-01-11-AR to collect carbon data in the Arctic Ocean, August - September 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 748, 1 CD. (Also available at https://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/748.)
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