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The U.S. West Coast is a site of dynamic and intense carbon cycling. However and more noteworthy upwelling of corrosive acidified water may be particularly vulnerable. Vulnerable to ocean acidification. All due to combining anthropogenic and as well natural processes.
All because the deep water has been out of contact with the atmosphere for a very long time as a result of global ocean circulation patterns. That’s while the water masses travel along the “oceanic conveyer belt”. That’s where they accumulate CO2 through natural respiration processes that break down sinking organic matter. Along the U.S. West Coast, winds blow from north to south during spring and summer months. Thereby displacing surface water offshore as a result of Earth’s rotation. Deeper water rich in CO2 and nutrients and depleted in O2 upwells to the surface nearshore to replace the displaced surface water.
These characteristics of the upwelling water masses have consequences. All for both the carbon cycle and ocean acidification along the West Coast. However, the nutrients in the water stimulate intense primary production. That’s in the nearshore areas where water reaches the euphotic zone. In addition, upwelling brings more acidic water with lower carbonate saturation states to the surface, which may have deleterious consequences for marine organisms. The interplay of ocean acidification and natural carbon cycle processes make the coastal ocean along the U.S. Pacific coastline an interesting and complex region to do research.
Furthermore, PMEL’s Carbon Group actively collaborates with many partners. Thereby to ensure that high-quality observations of marine carbon are continued. As well as extended along the West Coast. Therefore to synthesize the resulting data.
In conclusion, current research focused on building proxy relationships. That’s for predicting or hindcasting ocean acidification conditions. It’s using widely measured parameters such as oxygen and temperature (e.g. Juranek et al., 2009). Thereby this approach works very well along the Pacific Northwest and Central to Southern California. As well as extended to more regions (e.g. North Pacific and Alaskan waters) and to work under hypoxic conditions. Recent research also revealed the extensive exposure of West Coast ecosystems.
All to acidified conditions, with aragonite undersaturation present. All along the full western continental shelf and extending to the surface off Northern California. This was recorded during the 2007 upwelling season (Feely et al., 2008). In addition, other recent endeavors include applying a self-organizing map approach. Finally, all to improve air-sea flux estimates. Further, all along the North American West Coast (Hales et al., in prep.).
Feely, R.A., Sabine, C.L., Hernandez-Ayon, J.M., Ianson, D., Hales, B., 2008. Evidence for upwelling of corrosive “acidified” water on the continental shelf. Science, 320, 1490-1492.
Juranek, L.W., R.A. Feely, W.T. Peterson, S.R. Alin, J. Peterson, K. Lee, C.L. Sabine, and B. Hales, 2009 (in press). Robust determination of aragonite saturation state seasonal evolution near Newport, Oregon using simple algorithms with hydrographic data. Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2009GL040778.
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