Articles | Volume 11, issue 14
Research article
30 Jul 2014
Research article |  | 30 Jul 2014

Quantifying the impact of ocean acidification on our future climate

R. J. Matear and A. Lenton

Abstract. Ocean acidification (OA) is the consequence of rising atmospheric CO2 levels, and it is occurring in conjunction with global warming. Observational studies show that OA will impact ocean biogeochemical cycles. Here, we use an Earth system model under the RCP8.5 emission scenario to evaluate and quantify the first-order impacts of OA on marine biogeochemical cycles, and its potential feedback on our future climate. We find that OA impacts have only a small impact on the future atmospheric CO2 (less than 45 ppm) and global warming (less than a 0.25 K) by 2100. While the climate change feedbacks are small, OA impacts may significantly alter the distribution of biological production and remineralisation, which would alter the dissolved oxygen distribution in the ocean interior. Our results demonstrate that the consequences of OA will not be through its impact on climate change, but on how it impacts the flow of energy in marine ecosystems, which may significantly impact their productivity, composition and diversity.

Final-revised paper