04 Jul 2022
04 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Metabolic alkalinity release from large port facilities (Hamburg, Germany) and impact on coastal carbon storage

Mona Norbisrath1,2, Johannes Pätsch1,3, Kirstin Dähnke1, Tina Sanders1, Gesa Schulz1,4, Justus Engbertus Eduard van Beusekom1, and Helmuth Thomas1,2 Mona Norbisrath et al.
  • 1Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Institute of Carbon Cycles, Geesthacht, 21502, Germany
  • 2Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, Oldenburg, 26129, Germany
  • 3University Hamburg, Institute of Oceanography, Hamburg, 20146, Germany
  • 4University Hamburg, Institute of Geology, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), Hamburg, 20146, Germany

Abstract. Metabolic activities in estuaries, especially these of large rivers, exert profound impact on downstream coastal biogeochemistry. Here, we unravel the contribution of large industrial port facilities to these impacts and show that metabolic activity in the Hamburg port (Germany) increases total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) runoff to the North Sea. We explained this activity to be fueled by the imports of particulate inorganic and organic carbon (PIC, POC) and particulate organic nitrogen (PON) from the upstream Elbe River, resulting in maximum 90 % TA generation due to CaCO3 dissolution in the entire estuary. The remaining 10 % can be attributed to a TA generation by anaerobic metabolic processes such as denitrification of remineralized PON, or other pathways. The Elbe Estuary as a whole adds approximately 15 % to the overall DIC and TA runoff. Both the magnitude and partitioning among these processes appear to be sensitive to climate and anthropogenic changes, and affects coastal CO2 storage capacity.

Mona Norbisrath et al.

Status: open (until 24 Aug 2022)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2022-143', Anonymous Referee #1, 11 Aug 2022 reply

Mona Norbisrath et al.

Mona Norbisrath et al.


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Short summary
Total alkalinity (TA) regulates the oceanic storage capacity of atmospheric CO2. TA is also metabolically generated in estuaries and influences coastal carbon storage through its inflows. We used water samples and identified the Hamburg port area as the one with highest TA generation. Of the overall riverine TA load, 14 % are generated within the estuary. Using a biogeochemical model, we estimated potential effects on the coastal carbon storage under possible anthropogenic and climate changes.