Articles | Volume 6, issue 10
09 Oct 2009
 | 09 Oct 2009

CO2 perturbation experiments: similarities and differences between dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity manipulations

K. G. Schulz, J. Barcelos e Ramos, R. E. Zeebe, and U. Riebesell

Abstract. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) through human activities and invasion of anthropogenic CO2 into the surface ocean alters the seawater carbonate chemistry, increasing CO2 and bicarbonate (HCO3) at the expense of carbonate ion (CO32−) concentrations. This redistribution in the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) pool decreases pH and carbonate saturation state (Ω). Several components of the carbonate system are considered potential key variables influencing for instance calcium carbonate precipitation in marine calcifiers such as coccolithophores, foraminifera, corals, mollusks and echinoderms. Unravelling the sensitivities of marine organisms and ecosystems to CO2 induced ocean acidification (OA) requires well-controlled experimental setups and accurate carbonate system manipulations. Here we describe and analyse the chemical changes involved in the two basic approaches for carbonate chemistry manipulation, i.e. changing DIC at constant total alkalinity (TA) and changing TA at constant DIC. Furthermore, we briefly introduce several methods to experimentally manipulate DIC and TA. Finally, we examine responses obtained with both approaches using published results for the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. We conclude that under most experimental conditions in the context of ocean acidification DIC and TA manipulations yield similar changes in all parameters of the carbonate system, which implies direct comparability of data obtained with the two basic approaches for CO2 perturbation.

Final-revised paper