Carbonate system chemistry

The oceans play a vital role in regulating atmospheric CO2. Currently the oceans absorb about one quarter of CO2 released by human activities on an annual basis. Without the oceans, CO2 would be rising much faster in the atmosphere than it currently is. Nevertheless, the accumulation of excess CO2 in the oceans has potentially adverse implications there, notably an increase in acidity (decrease in pH). During AMT we are working towards quantifying this effect thoughout the Atlantic Ocean, identifying its consequences for life in the oceans and the cycling of the elements.

  • pH along a latitudinal and depth section in the Atlantic Ocean. Dots indicate sampling locations. Surface waters have higher pH (lower CO2) because phytoplankton consume CO2 for growth. Deeper waters have lower pH (high CO2) because organic matter is respired back to CO2. Currents bring CO2-rich deep-water nearer to the surface around the Equator.
    pH along a latitudinal and depth section in the Atlantic Ocean. Dots indicate sampling locations. Surface waters have higher pH (lower CO2) because phytoplankton consume CO2 for growth. Deeper waters have lower pH (high CO2) because organic matter is respired back to CO2. Currents bring CO2-rich deep-water nearer to the surface around the Equator.

Author

Dr Vassilis Kitidis

Dr Vassilis Kitidis

Marine biogeochemist - carbonate system chemistry along the AMT transect.