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Decadal acidification in the water masses of the Atlantic Ocean

TitleDecadal acidification in the water masses of the Atlantic Ocean
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsRios AF, Resplandy L., Garcia-Ibanez M.I, Fajar N.M, Velo A., Padin X.A, Wanninkhof R, Steinfeldt R., Roson G., Perez F.F
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Date Published2015/08
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0027-8424
Accession NumberWOS:000359285100058
Keywordsanthropogenic carbon; atlantic; calcifying organisms; circulation; climate; co2; equatorial; model; north-atlantic; ocean acidification; ph; south; trends; variability; water masses; western boundary

Global ocean acidification is caused primarily by the ocean's uptake of CO2 as a consequence of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. We present observations of the oceanic decrease in pH at the basin scale (50 degrees S-36 degrees N) for the Atlantic Ocean over two decades (1993-2013). Changes in pH associated with the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 (Delta pHCant) and with variations caused by biological activity and ocean circulation (Delta pHNat) are evaluated for different water masses. Output from an Institut Pierre Simon Laplace climate model is used to place the results into a longer-term perspective and to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for pH change. The largest decreases in pH (Delta pH) were observed in central, mode, and intermediate waters, with a maximum Delta pH value in South Atlantic Central Waters of -0.042 +/- 0.003. The Delta pH trended toward zero in deep and bottom waters. Observations and model results show that pH changes generally are dominated by the anthropogenic component, which accounts for rates between -0.0015 and -0.0020/y in the central waters. The anthropogenic and natural components are of the same order of magnitude and reinforce one another in mode and intermediate waters over the time period. Large negative Delta pHNat values observed in mode and intermediate waters are driven primarily by changes in CO2 content and are consistent with (i) a poleward shift of the formation region during the positive phase of the Southern Annular Mode in the South Atlantic and (ii) an increase in the rate of the water mass formation in the North Atlantic.

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