Impact of rapid sea-ice reduction in the Arctic Ocean on the rate of ocean acidification
- 1Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama, Japan
- 2Graduate school of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
- 3Department of Social Environment, Fuji Tokoha University, Fuji, Japan
- *now at: Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8568, Japan
Abstract. The largest pH decline and widespread undersaturation with respect to aragonite in this century due to uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the Arctic Ocean have been projected. The reductions in pH and aragonite saturation state in the Arctic Ocean have been caused by the melting of sea ice as well as by an increase in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Therefore, future projections of pH and aragonite saturation in the Arctic Ocean will be affected by how rapidly the reduction in sea ice occurs. The observed recent Arctic sea-ice loss has been more rapid than projected by many of the climate models that contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. In this study, the impact of sea-ice reduction rate on projected pH and aragonite saturation state in the Arctic surface waters was investigated. Reductions in pH and aragonite saturation were calculated from the outputs of two versions of an Earth system model with different sea-ice reduction rates under similar CO2 emission scenarios. The newer model version projects that Arctic summer ice-free condition will be achieved by the year 2040, and the older version predicts ice-free condition by 2090. The Arctic surface water was projected to be undersaturated with respect to aragonite in the annual mean when atmospheric CO2 concentration reaches 513 (606) ppm in year 2046 (2056) in new (old) version. At an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 520 ppm, the maximum differences in pH and aragonite saturation state between the two versions were 0.1 and 0.21 respectively. The analysis showed that the decreases in pH and aragonite saturation state due to rapid sea-ice reduction were caused by increases in both CO2 uptake and freshwater input. Thus, the reductions in pH and aragonite saturation state in the Arctic surface waters are significantly affected by the difference in future projections for sea-ice reduction rate. Our results suggest that the future reductions in pH and aragonite saturation state could be significantly faster than previously projected if the sea-ice reduction in the Arctic Ocean keeps its present pace.