Developing Carbon Dioxide Climatology and Ocean Acidification Indicators in the Northeastern U.S. Coastal Waters

Zhaohui Aleck Wang, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Abstract

The Northeastern U.S. coastal region, including the Gulf of Maine (GoME) and the Mid- Atlantic Bight (MAB), may be more susceptible to ocean acidification than has previously been thought, due to its relatively low pH, aragonite saturation state and buffering capacity. Such a chemical condition has significant implications for the region’s profitable shellfish industry and overall ecosystem health in the long term. Coastal ocean acidification in the Northeast region is likely multi-factored, involving multiple anthropogenic and natural driving forces and potential effects, all of which are poorly understood. Stakeholders and the public are becoming increasingly interested in this looming problem and its potential impacts. A baseline assessment of the region’s ocean chemistry patterns, in particular water-column carbonate chemistry, is a critical step in diagnosing future changes and in making long term policies for adapting to and mitigating the effects of ocean acidification in the region. Such an assessment is lacking. The goal of this proposed work is to collaborate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northeast Fishery Science Center (NEFSC) to synthesize existing and on-going observations of CO2 parameters and other related measurements in the Northeastern U.S. coastal waters, with the aim of generating a mechanistic understanding of the variability of carbonate chemistry caused by both natural and anthropogenic factors and to produce a baseline climatology of carbonate chemistry and ocean acidification indicators for the region. The climatology and OA indicators will be valuable for informing decision makers of the current status of ocean acidification, and will be used in models to project future changes and impacts in the region.