Articles | Volume 11, issue 4
Biogeosciences, 11, 1103–1123, 2014

Special issue: Biogeochemistry and ecosystems in the western north Pacific...

Biogeosciences, 11, 1103–1123, 2014

Research article 26 Feb 2014

Research article | 26 Feb 2014

Subsurface pH and carbonate saturation state of aragonite on the Chinese side of the North Yellow Sea: seasonal variations and controls

W.-D. Zhai2,1, N. Zheng1, C. Huo1, Y. Xu2, H.-D. Zhao2,1, Y.-W. Li*,1, K.-P. Zang1, J.-Y. Wang1, and X.-M. Xu1 W.-D. Zhai et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory for Ecological Environment in Coastal Areas (State Oceanic Administration), National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center, Dalian 116023, China
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361102, China
  • *now at: College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Taishan University, Tai'an 271000, China

Abstract. Based upon eight field surveys conducted between May 2011 and May 2012, we investigated seasonal variations in pH, carbonate saturation state of aragonite (Ωarag), and ancillary data on the Chinese side of the North Yellow Sea, a western North Pacific continental margin of major economic importance. Subsurface waters were CO2-undersaturated in May and nearly in equilibrium with atmospheric CO2 in June. From July to October, the fugacity of CO2 (fCO2) of bottom water gradually increased from 438 ± 44 μatm to 630 ± 84 μatm, and pHT decreased from 8.02 ± 0.04 to 7.88 ± 0.06 due to local aerobic remineralization of primary-production-induced biogenic particles. The subsurface community respiration rates in summer and autumn were estimated to be from 0.80 to 1.08 μmol-O2 kg−1 d−1 within a relatively high salinity range of 31.63 to 32.25. From November to May in the next year, however, subsurface fCO2 gradually decreased and pH increased due to cooling and water column ventilation. The corresponding bottom water Ωarag was 1.85 ± 0.21 (May), 1.79 ± 0.24 (June), 1.75 ± 0.27 (July), 1.76 ± 0.29 (August), 1.45 ± 0.31 (October), 1.52 ± 0.25 (November), and 1.41 ± 0.12 (January). Extremely low Ωarag values (from 1.13 to 1.40) were observed mainly in subsurface waters within the high salinity range of 31.63 to 32.25, which covered a major fraction of the study area in October and November. Of the China seas, the North Yellow Sea represents one of the systems most vulnerable to the potential negative effects of ocean acidification.

Final-revised paper