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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 3
Biogeosciences, 9, 893–905, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 9, 893–905, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Reviews and syntheses 01 Mar 2012

Reviews and syntheses | 01 Mar 2012

Revisiting four scientific debates in ocean acidification research

A. J. Andersson1 and F. T. Mackenzie2 A. J. Andersson and F. T. Mackenzie
  • 1Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0202, USA
  • 2Department of Oceanography, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, 96822, USA

Abstract. In recent years, ocean acidification has gained continuously increasing attention from scientists and a number of stakeholders and has raised serious concerns about its effects on marine organisms and ecosystems. With the increase in interest, funding resources, and the number of scientific investigations focusing on this environmental problem, increasing amounts of data and results have been produced, and a progressively growing and more rigorous understanding of this problem has begun to develop. Nevertheless, there are still a number of scientific debates, and in some cases misconceptions, that keep reoccurring at a number of forums in various contexts. In this article, we revisit four of these topics that we think require further thoughtful consideration including: (1) surface seawater CO2 chemistry in shallow water coastal areas, (2) experimental manipulation of marine systems using CO2 gas or by acid addition, (3) net versus gross calcification and dissolution, and (4) CaCO3 mineral dissolution and seawater buffering. As a summation of these topics, we emphasize that: (1) many coastal environments experience seawater pCO2 that is significantly higher than expected from equilibrium with the atmosphere and is strongly linked to biological processes; (2) addition of acid, base or CO2 gas to seawater can all be useful techniques to manipulate seawater chemistry in ocean acidification experiments; (3) estimates of calcification or CaCO3 dissolution based on present techniques are measuring the net of gross calcification and dissolution; and (4) dissolution of metastable carbonate mineral phases will not produce sufficient alkalinity to buffer the pH and carbonate saturation state of shallow water environments on timescales of decades to hundreds of years to the extent that any potential negative effects on marine calcifiers will be avoided.

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