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Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5063

Prepared as part of the U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Geology Program and Coral Reef Ecosystem Study

Chemical and Biological Consequences of Using Carbon Dioxide Versus Acid Additions in Ocean Acidification Experiments

By Kimberly K. Yates, Christopher M. DuFore, and Lisa L. Robbins

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Use of different approaches for manipulating seawater chemistry during ocean acidification experiments has confounded comparison of results from various experimental studies. Some of these discrepancies have been attributed to whether addition of acid (such as hydrochloric acid, HCl) or carbon dioxide (CO2) gas has been used to adjust carbonate system parameters. Experimental simulations of carbonate system parameter scenarios for the years 1766, 2007, and 2100 were performed using the carbonate speciation program CO2SYS to demonstrate the variation in seawater chemistry that can result from use of these approaches. Results showed that carbonate system parameters were 3 percent and 8 percent lower than target values in closed-system acid additions, and 1 percent and 5 percent higher in closed-system CO2 additions for the 2007 and 2100 simulations, respectively. Open-system simulations showed that carbonate system parameters can deviate by up to 52 percent to 70 percent from target values in both acid addition and CO2 addition experiments. Results from simulations for the year 2100 were applied to empirically derived equations that relate biogenic calcification to carbonate system parameters for calcifying marine organisms including coccolithophores, corals, and foraminifera. Calculated calcification rates for coccolithophores, corals, and foraminifera differed from rates at target conditions by 0.5 percent to 2.5 percent in closed-system CO2 gas additions, from 0.8 percent to 15 percent in the closed-system acid additions, from 4.8 percent to 94 percent in open-system acid additions, and from 7 percent to 142 percent in open-system CO2 additions.

First posted September 12, 2013

For additional information contact:
Director, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
600 Fourth Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

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Suggested citation:

Yates, K.K., DuFore, C.M., and Robbins, L.L., 2013, Chemical and biological consequences of using carbon dioxide versus acid additions in ocean acidification experiments: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5063, 17 p.,





Open-System, Carbon Dioxide-Additions



References Cited

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