Acidification of East Siberian Arctic Shelf waters through addition of freshwater and terrestrial carbon

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 01 June 2016
  • An Addendum to this article was published on 01 September 2016

Abstract

Ocean acidification affects marine ecosystems and carbon cycling, and is considered a direct effect of anthropogenic carbon dioxide uptake from the atmosphere1,2,3. Accumulation of atmospheric CO2 in ocean surface waters is predicted to make the ocean twice as acidic by the end of this century4. The Arctic Ocean is particularly sensitive to ocean acidification because more CO2 can dissolve in cold water5,6. Here we present observations of the chemical and physical characteristics of East Siberian Arctic Shelf waters from 1999, 2000–2005, 2008 and 2011, and find extreme aragonite undersaturation that reflects acidity levels in excess of those projected in this region for 2100. Dissolved inorganic carbon isotopic data and Markov chain Monte Carlo simulations of water sources using salinity and δ18O data suggest that the persistent acidification is driven by the degradation of terrestrial organic matter and discharge of Arctic river water with elevated CO2 concentrations, rather than by uptake of atmospheric CO2. We suggest that East Siberian Arctic Shelf waters may become more acidic if thawing permafrost leads to enhanced terrestrial organic carbon inputs and if freshwater additions continue to increase, which may affect their efficiency as a source of CO2.

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Figure 1: Spatial distribution on the ESAS system of terr-OC in surface sediments and ΩAr in the water column.
Figure 2: Calculated two-component mixing lines between two endmembers: the Arctic water (AW) and Lena River water (LR).
Figure 3: Distribution of salinity (‰) in the EBP inferred from multi-year data.
Figure 4: A two-dimensional source marker (δ18O versus salinity) plot.

Change history

  • 06 May 2016

    In the version of the Letter originally published, in the first sentence of the Fig. 4 caption, 'δ18C' should have been 'δ18O'. This has been corrected in the online versions of the Letter.

  • 08 August 2016

    In the version of this Letter originally published the data availability statement was not included and it should have read: All seawater data are publicly and freely available at Bolin Centre Database; δ18O-data plotted in Fig. 4 are from ref. 60 and are available at the British Oceanographic Data Centre web site.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Russian Government (No. 14.Z50.31.0012/03.19.2014); the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Nos. 13-05-12028, 13-05-12041, 13-05-12042, 14-05-00433); the Headquarters of the Russian Academy of Sciences, RAS (Arctic Program led by A. Khanchuk), the Far Eastern Branch of RAS; the US National Science Foundation (OPP ARC-1023281; 0909546); the NOAA Climate Program office (NA08OAR4600758); the Swedish Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW); the Swedish Research Council (VR); and the Nordic Council of Ministries (NMR-TRI-Defrost). N.S., A.C. and O.D. acknowledge support from the Russian Science Foundation (No. 15-17-20032). I.S. and N.S. also acknowledge ICE-ARC-EU FP7 project. We thank C. O’Connor for English editing.

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I.S., I.P., O.G. and L.G.A. designed the fieldwork; I.P, S.P., O.D. and A.C. set up the analytical instruments, performed the on-board measurements, collected the data, and conducted quality control; A.G. collected and analysed macro-benthos data; I.P., S.P., L.B., A.A. and E.S. designed the figures; I.S., N.S. and O.G. drafted the first manuscript; and all authors contributed to the final version.

Correspondence to Igor Semiletov.

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Semiletov, I., Pipko, I., Gustafsson, Ö. et al. Acidification of East Siberian Arctic Shelf waters through addition of freshwater and terrestrial carbon. Nature Geosci 9, 361–365 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2695

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