News

A strong case for limiting climate change

"As a gigantic carbon sink, the ocean has taken up about a third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere by human activities. But when absorbed by seawater, the greenhouse gas triggers chemical reactions, causing the ocean to acidify. Ocean acidification affects ecosystems and important services the ocean provides to humankind. This includes the regulation of the Earth's climate, food provision, recreation as well as biodiversity as a condition for intact and functioning ecosystems. [...]"

Source: EurekAlert

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Impacts of El Niño events on the Peruvian upwelling system productivity

Abstract.

"Every 2–7 years, El Niño events trigger a strong decrease in phytoplankton productivity off Peru, which profoundly alters the environmental landscape and trophic chain of the marine ecosystem. Here we use a regional coupled physical-biogeochemical model to study the dynamical processes involved in the productivity changes during El Nino, with a focus on the strongest events of the 1958–2008 period. Model evaluation using satellite and in situ observations shows that the model reproduces the surface and subsurface interannual physical and biogeochemical variability. [...]"

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Authors: D. Espinoza-Morriberón
DOI: 10.1002/2016JC012439

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Vertical segregation among pathways mediating nitrogen loss (N2 and N2O production) across the oxygen gradient in a coastal upwelling ecosystem

Abstract.

"The upwelling system off central Chile (36.5° S) is seasonally subjected to oxygen (O2)-deficient waters, with a strong vertical gradient in O2 (from oxic to anoxic conditions) that spans a few metres (30–50 m interval) over the shelf. This condition inhibits and/or stimulates processes involved in nitrogen (N) removal (e.g. anammox, denitrification, and nitrification). During austral spring (September 2013) and summer (January 2014), the main pathways involved in N loss and its speciation, in the form of N2 and/or N2O, were studied using 15N-tracer incubations, inhibitor assays, and the natural abundance of nitrate isotopes along with hydrographic information. [...]"

Source: Biogeosciences
Authors: Alexander Galán et al.
DOI: 10.5194/bg-14-4795-2017

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Turbulence and hypoxia contribute to dense zooplankton scattering layers in Patagonian Fjord System

Abstract.

"Abstract. The Puyuhuapi Fjord is an atypical fjord, with two mouths, located in northern Patagonia (44.7° S). One mouth lies to the south, close to the Pacific Ocean, whilst the second connects with the Jacaf Channel to the north where a shallow sill inhibits deep water ventilation contributing to the hypoxic conditions below ~ 100 m depth. Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler moorings, scientific echo sounder transects, and in-situ abundance measurements were used to study zooplankton assemblages and migration patterns along Puyuhuapi Fjord and Jacaf Channel. […]"

Source: Ocean Science (in review)
Authors: Iván Pérez-Santos et al.
DOI: 10.5194/os-2017-89

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Oxygen Minimum Zone Contrasts between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal Implied by Differences in Remineralization Depth

Abstract.

"The combination of high primary productivity and weak ventilation in the Arabian Sea (AS) and Bay of Bengal (BoB) generates vast areas of depleted oxygen, known as Oxygen Minimum Zones (OMZs). The AS OMZ is the world's thickest and hosts up to 40% of global denitrification. In contrast, the OMZ in the BoB is weaker and denitrification free. Using a series of model simulations, we show that the deeper remineralization depth (RD) in the BoB, potentially associated with organic matter aggregation with riverine mineral particles, contributes to weaken its OMZ. [...]"

Source: Geophysical Research Letters
Authors: Muchamad Al Azhar, Zouhair Lachkar, Marina Lévy, Shafer Smith
DOI: 10.1002/2017GL075157

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A Giant Blob of Floodwater From Harvey Is Still Moving Through the Gulf

"The rain began on August 25, and it would fall, remarkably, for four more days. We know now that Hurricane Harvey dumped as much as 60 inches of rain over parts of Texas. Twenty trillion gallons in all. The equivalent of the entire Chesapeake Bay. Enough to push the Earth’s crust down two centimeters. [...]

What oceanographers do know about the interface of freshwater and ocean comes from studying rivers that naturally empty into the sea. The key is density. Because freshwater lacks dissolved salt, it is less dense and floats atop seawater. It becomes a barrier between the air and the ocean water, which can have nasty consequences. “The freshwater sitting on the salty water cuts off the oxygen from the atmosphere getting into the ocean, and then you get the dead zone,” says Steve DiMarco [...]"

Source: The Atlantic

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Temporal variation in pelagic food chain length in response to environmental change

Abstract.

"Climate variability alters nitrogen cycling, primary productivity, and dissolved oxygen concentration in marine ecosystems. We examined the role of this variability (as measured by six variables) on food chain length (FCL) in the California Current (CC) by reconstructing a time series of amino acid–specific δ15N values derived from common dolphins, an apex pelagic predator, and using two FCL proxies.  [...]"

Source: Science Advances
Authors: Rocio I. Ruiz-Cooley et al.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701140

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Exposure to elevated pCO2 does not exacerbate reproductive suppression of Aurelia aurita jellyfish polyps in low oxygen environments

Abstract.

"Eutrophication-induced hypoxia is one of the primary anthropogenic threats to coastal ecosystems. Under hypoxic conditions, a deficit of O2 and a surplus of CO2 will concurrently decrease pH, yet studies of hypoxia have seldom considered the potential interactions with elevated pCO2 (reduced pH). Previous studies on gelatinous organisms concluded that they are fairly robust to low oxygen and reduced pH conditions individually, yet the combination of stressors has only been examined for ephyrae. [...]"

Source: Marine Ecology Progress Series
Authors: Laura M. Treible et al.
DOI: 10.3354/meps12298

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Acidifying oceans a bad trip for marine ecosystems

"A more acidic ocean under climate change threatens to reconfigure entire ecosystems by advantaging some fish species to the detriment of others, a new study has found. The research is one of only a few that go beyond the lab to study how species interactions are changing in nature under more extreme conditions.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide and the University of Hong Kong showed that a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the oceans, which reacts to turn seawater more acidic, favors common fish species, allowing them to double their populations. But that might also mean the downfall of rarer, subordinate competitors, leading to biodiversity loss and a total restructuring of fish communities, with numerous ecological impacts. [...]"

Source: Mongabay

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Oyster reproduction is compromised by acidification experienced seasonally in coastal regions

Abstract.

"Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have been rising during the past century, leading to ocean acidification (OA). Coastal and estuarine habitats experience annual pH variability that vastly exceeds the magnitude of long-term projections in open ocean regions. Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reproduction season coincides with periods of low pH occurrence in estuaries, thus we investigated effects of moderate [...] and severe OA [...] on oyster gametogenesis, fertilization, and early larval development successes. [...]"

Source: Scientific Reports
Authors: Myrina Boulais et al.
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-13480-3

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