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166 Research products, page 1 of 17

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  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Helmond, Niels A. G. M.; Robertson, Elizabeth K.; Conley, Daniel J.; Hermans, Martijn; Humborg, Christoph; Kubeneck, L. Joëlle; Lenstra, Wytze K.; Slomp, Caroline P.;
    Project: EC | PHOXY (278364)

    Coastal systems can act as filters for anthropogenic nutrient input into marine environments. Here, we assess the processes controlling the removal of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) for four sites in the eutrophic Stockholm Archipelago. Bottom water concentrations of oxygen and P are inversely correlated. This is attributed to the seasonal release of P from iron (Fe)-oxide-bound P in surface sediments and from degrading organic matter. The abundant presence of sulfide in the pore water, linked to prior deposition of organic-rich sediments in a low oxygen setting (legacy of hypoxia), hinders the formation of a larger Fe-oxide-bound P pool in winter. Burial rates of P are high at all sites (0.03–0.3 mol m−2 y−1), a combined result of high sedimentation rates (0.5 to 3.5 cm yr−1) and high sedimentary P at depth (~ 30 to 50 μmol g−1). Organic P accounts for 30–50 % of reactive P burial. Apart from one site in the inner archipelago, where a vivianite-type Fe(II)-P mineral is likely present at depth, there is little evidence for sink-switching of organic or Fe-oxide bound P to authigenic P minerals. Denitrification is the major benthic nitrate-reducing process at all sites (0.09 to 1.7 mmol m−2 d−1), efficiently removing N as N2. Denitrification rates decrease seaward following the decline in bottom water nitrate and sediment organic carbon. Our results explain how sediments in this eutrophic coastal system can efficiently remove land-derived P and N, regardless of whether the bottom waters are oxic or frequently hypoxic. Hence, management strategies involving artificial reoxygenation are not expected to be successful in removing P and N, emphasizing a need for a focus on nutrient load reductions.

  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Capet, A.; Beckers, J.-M.; Grégoire, M.;
    Project: EC | HYPOX (226213)

    The Black Sea northwestern shelf (NWS) is a shallow eutrophic area in which the seasonal stratification of the water column isolates the bottom waters from the atmosphere. This prevents ventilation from counterbalancing the large consumption of oxygen due to respiration in the bottom waters and in the sediments, and sets the stage for the development of seasonal hypoxia. A three-dimensional (3-D) coupled physical–biogeochemical model is used to investigate the dynamics of bottom hypoxia in the Black Sea NWS, first at seasonal and then at interannual scales (1981–2009), and to differentiate its driving factors (climatic versus eutrophication). Model skills are evaluated by a quantitative comparison of the model results to 14 123 in situ oxygen measurements available in the NOAA World Ocean and the Black Sea Commission databases, using different error metrics. This validation exercise shows that the model is able to represent the seasonal and interannual variability of the oxygen concentration and of the occurrence of hypoxia, as well as the spatial distribution of oxygen-depleted waters. During the period 1981–2009, each year exhibits seasonal bottom hypoxia at the end of summer. This phenomenon essentially covers the northern part of the NWS – which receives large inputs of nutrients from the Danube, Dniester and Dnieper rivers – and extends, during the years of severe hypoxia, towards the Romanian bay of Constanta. An index H which merges the aspects of the spatial and temporal extension of the hypoxic event is proposed to quantify, for each year, the intensity of hypoxia as an environmental stressor. In order to explain the interannual variability of H and to disentangle its drivers, we analyze the long time series of model results by means of a stepwise multiple linear regression. This statistical model gives a general relationship that links the intensity of hypoxia to eutrophication and climate-related variables. A total of 82% of the interannual variability of H is explained by the combination of four predictors: the annual riverine nitrate load (N), the sea surface temperature in the month preceding stratification (Ts), the amount of semi-labile organic matter accumulated in the sediments (C) and the sea surface temperature during late summer (Tf). Partial regression indicates that the climatic impact on hypoxia is almost as important as that of eutrophication. Accumulation of organic matter in the sediments introduces an important inertia in the recovery process after eutrophication, with a typical timescale of 9.3 yr. Seasonal fluctuations and the heterogeneous spatial distribution complicate the monitoring of bottom hypoxia, leading to contradictory conclusions when the interpretation is done from different sets of data. In particular, it appears that the recovery reported in the literature after 1995 was overestimated due to the use of observations concentrated in areas and months not typically affected by hypoxia. This stresses the urgent need for a dedicated monitoring effort in the Black Sea NWS focused on the areas and months concerned by recurrent hypoxic events.

  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Lenton, A.; Tilbrook, B.; Law, R. M.; Bakker, D.; Doney, S. C.; Gruber, N.; Ishii, M.; Hoppema, M.; Lovenduski, N. S.; Matear, R. J.; +7 more
    Project: EC | CARBOCHANGE (264879)

    The Southern Ocean (44–75° S) plays a critical role in the global carbon cycle, yet remains one of the most poorly sampled ocean regions. Different approaches have been used to estimate sea–air CO2 fluxes in this region: synthesis of surface ocean observations, ocean biogeochemical models, and atmospheric and ocean inversions. As part of the RECCAP (REgional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes) project, we combine these different approaches to quantify and assess the magnitude and variability in Southern Ocean sea–air CO2 fluxes between 1990–2009. Using all models and inversions (26), the integrated median annual sea–air CO2 flux of −0.42 ± 0.07 Pg C yr−1 for the 44–75° S region, is consistent with the −0.27 ± 0.13 Pg C yr−1 calculated using surface observations. The circumpolar region south of 58° S has a small net annual flux (model and inversion median: −0.04 ± 0.07 Pg C yr−1 and observations: +0.04 ± 0.02 Pg C yr−1), with most of the net annual flux located in the 44 to 58° S circumpolar band (model and inversion median: −0.36 ± 0.09 Pg C yr−1 and observations: −0.35 ± 0.09 Pg C yr−1). Seasonally, in the 44–58° S region, the median of 5 ocean biogeochemical models captures the observed sea–air CO2 flux seasonal cycle, while the median of 11 atmospheric inversions shows little seasonal change in the net flux. South of 58° S, neither atmospheric inversions nor ocean biogeochemical models reproduce the phase and amplitude of the observed seasonal sea–air CO2 flux, particularly in the Austral Winter. Importantly, no individual atmospheric inversion or ocean biogeochemical model is capable of reproducing both the observed annual mean uptake and the observed seasonal cycle. This raises concerns about projecting future changes in Southern Ocean CO2 fluxes. The median interannual variability from atmospheric inversions and ocean biogeochemical models is substantial in the Southern Ocean; up to 25% of the annual mean flux, with 25% of this interannual variability attributed to the region south of 58° S. Resolving long-term trends is difficult due to the large interannual variability and short time frame (1990–2009) of this study; this is particularly evident from the large spread in trends from inversions and ocean biogeochemical models. Nevertheless, in the period 1990–2009 ocean biogeochemical models do show increasing oceanic uptake consistent with the expected increase of −0.05 Pg C yr−1 decade−1. In contrast, atmospheric inversions suggest little change in the strength of the CO2 sink broadly consistent with the results of Le Quéré et al. (2007).

  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Hagens, M.; Slomp, C. P.; Meysman, F. J. R.; Seitaj, D.; Harlay, J.; Borges, A. V.; Middelburg, J. J.;
    Project: EC | SEDBIOGEOCHEM2.0 (306933), EC | PHOXY (278364)

    Coastal areas are impacted by multiple natural and anthropogenic processes and experience stronger pH fluctuations than the open ocean. These variations can weaken or intensify the ocean acidification signal induced by increasing atmospheric pCO2. The development of eutrophication-induced hypoxia intensifies coastal acidification, since the CO2 produced during respiration decreases the buffering capacity in any hypoxic bottom water. To assess the combined ecosystem impacts of acidification and hypoxia, we quantified the seasonal variation in pH and oxygen dynamics in the water column of a seasonally stratified coastal basin (Lake Grevelingen, the Netherlands). Monthly water-column chemistry measurements were complemented with estimates of primary production and respiration using O2 light–dark incubations, in addition to sediment–water fluxes of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA). The resulting data set was used to set up a proton budget on a seasonal scale. Temperature-induced seasonal stratification combined with a high community respiration was responsible for the depletion of oxygen in the bottom water in summer. The surface water showed strong seasonal variation in process rates (primary production, CO2 air–sea exchange), but relatively small seasonal pH fluctuations (0.46 units on the total hydrogen ion scale). In contrast, the bottom water showed less seasonality in biogeochemical rates (respiration, sediment–water exchange), but stronger pH fluctuations (0.60 units). This marked difference in pH dynamics could be attributed to a substantial reduction in the acid–base buffering capacity of the hypoxic bottom water in the summer period. Our results highlight the importance of acid–base buffering in the pH dynamics of coastal systems and illustrate the increasing vulnerability of hypoxic, CO2-rich waters to any acidifying process.

  • Open Access
    Authors: 
    Kluijver, A.; Soetaert, K.; Schulz, K. G.; Riebesell, U.; Bellerby, R. G. J.; Middelburg, J. J.;
    Project: EC | MEECE (212085), EC | EPOCA (211384)

    The potential impact of rising carbon dioxide (CO2) on carbon transfer from phytoplankton to bacteria was investigated during the 2005 PeECE III mesocosm study in Bergen, Norway. Sets of mesocosms, in which a phytoplankton bloom was induced by nutrient addition, were incubated under 1× (~350 μatm), 2× (~700 μatm), and 3× present day CO2 (~1050 μatm) initial seawater and sustained atmospheric CO2 levels for 3 weeks. 13C labelled bicarbonate was added to all mesocosms to follow the transfer of carbon from dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) into phytoplankton and subsequently heterotrophic bacteria, and settling particles. Isotope ratios of polar-lipid-derived fatty acids (PLFA) were used to infer the biomass and production of phytoplankton and bacteria. Phytoplankton PLFA were enriched within one day after label addition, whilst it took another 3 days before bacteria showed substantial enrichment. Group-specific primary production measurements revealed that coccolithophores showed higher primary production than green algae and diatoms. Elevated CO2 had a significant positive effect on post-bloom biomass of green algae, diatoms, and bacteria. A simple model based on measured isotope ratios of phytoplankton and bacteria revealed that CO2 had no significant effect on the carbon transfer efficiency from phytoplankton to bacteria during the bloom. There was no indication of CO2 effects on enhanced settling based on isotope mixing models during the phytoplankton bloom, but this could not be determined in the post-bloom phase. Our results suggest that CO2 effects are most pronounced in the post-bloom phase, under nutrient limitation.

  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Wienberg, C.; Wintersteller, P.; Beuck, L.; Hebbeln, D.;
    Project: EC | HERMIONE (226354)

    The present study provides new knowledge about the so far largely unexplored Coral Patch seamount which is located in the NE Atlantic Ocean half-way between the Iberian Peninsula and Madeira. For the first time a detailed hydroacoustic mapping (MBES) in conjunction with video surveys (ROV, camera sled) were performed to describe the sedimentological and biological characteristics of this sub-elliptical ENE-WSW elongated seamount. Video observations were restricted to the southwestern summit area of Coral Patch seamount (water depth: 560–760 m) and revealed that this part of the summit is dominated by exposed hard substrate, whereas soft sediment is just a minor substrate component. Although exposed hardgrounds are dominant for this summit area and, thus, offer suitable habitat for settlement by benthic organisms, the benthic megafauna shows rather scarce occurrence. In particular, scleractinian framework-building cold-water corals are apparently rare with very few isolated and small-sized live occurrences of the species Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata. In contrast, dead coral framework and coral rubble are more frequent pointing to a higher abundance of cold-water corals on Coral Patch during the recent past. This is even supported by the observation of fishing lines that got entangled with rather fresh-looking coral frameworks. Overall, long lines and various species of commercially important fish were frequently observed emphasising the potential of Coral Patch as an important target for fisheries that may have impacted the entire benthic community. Hydroacoustic seabed classification covered the entire summit of Coral Patch and its northern and southern flanks (water depth: 560–2660 m) and revealed extended areas dominated by mixed and soft sediments at the northern flank and to a minor degree at its easternmost summit and southern flank. Nevertheless, these data also predict most of the summit area to be dominated by exposed bedrock which would offer suitable habitat for benthic organisms. By comparing the locally restricted video observations and the broad-scale monitoring of a much larger and deeper seafloor area as derived by hydroacoustic seabed classification, it becomes obvious that habitat information obtained by in situ sampling may provide a rather scattered pattern about the entire seamount ecosystem. Solely with a combination of both methods, a satisfactory approach to describe the diverse characteristics of a seamount ecosystem can be derived which is in turn indispensable for future scientific monitoring campaigns as well as management and conservation purposes.

  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Geerlings, Nicole M. J.; Zetsche, Eva-Maria; Hidalgo-Martinez, Silvia; Middelburg, Jack J.; Meysman, Filip J. R.;
    Project: EC | BIPHA (660481), NWO | The impact of cable bacte... (2300189430), EC | SEDBIOGEOCHEM2.0 (306933)

    Cable bacteria are multicellular, filamentous microorganisms that are capable of transporting electrons over centimeter-scale distances. Although recently discovered, these bacteria appear to be widely present in the seafloor, and when active they exert a strong imprint on the local geochemistry. In particular, their electrogenic metabolism induces unusually strong pH excursions in aquatic sediments, which induces considerable mineral dissolution, and subsequent mineral reprecipitation. However, at present, it is unknown whether and how cable bacteria play an active or direct role in the mineral reprecipitation process. To this end we present an explorative study of the formation of sedimentary minerals in and near filamentous cable bacteria using a combined approach of electron microscopy and spectroscopic techniques. Our observations reveal the formation of polyphosphate granules within the cells and two different types of biomineral formation directly associated with multicellular filaments of these cable bacteria: (i) the attachment and incorporation of clay particles in a coating surrounding the bacteria and (ii) encrustation of the cell envelope by iron minerals. These findings suggest a complex interaction between cable bacteria and the surrounding sediment matrix, and a substantial imprint of the electrogenic metabolism on mineral diagenesis and sedimentary biogeochemical cycling. In particular, the encrustation process leaves many open questions for further research. For example, we hypothesize that the complete encrustation of filaments might create a diffusion barrier and negatively impact the metabolism of the cable bacteria.

  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Mogollón, J. M.; Dale, A. W.; Fossing, H.; Regnier, P.;
    Project: EC | BONUS+ (217246)

    Arkona Basin (southwestern Baltic Sea) is a seasonally-hypoxic basin characterized by the presence of free methane gas in its youngest organic-rich muddy stratum. Through the use of reactive transport models, this study tracks the development of the methane geochemistry in Arkona Basin as this muddy sediment became deposited during the last 8 kyr. Four cores are modeled each pertaining to a unique geochemical scenario according to their respective contemporary geochemical profiles. Ultimately the thickness of the muddy sediment and the flux of particulate organic carbon are crucial in determining the advent of both methanogenesis and free methane gas, the timescales over which methanogenesis takes over as a dominant reaction pathway for organic matter degradation, and the timescales required for free methane gas to form.

  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Provoost, P.; Heuven, S.; Soetaert, K.; Laane, R. W. P. M.; Middelburg, J. J.;
    Project: EC | EPOCA (211384)

    Recent observations and modelling studies suggest that biogeochemical changes can mask atmospheric CO2-induced pH decreases. Data collected by the Dutch monitoring authorities in different coastal systems (North Sea, Wadden Sea, Ems-Dollard, Eastern Scheldt and Scheldt estuary) since 1975 provide an excellent opportunity to test whether this is the case in the Dutch coastal zone. The time-series were analysed using Multi-Resolution Analysis (MRA) which resulted in the identification of system-dependent patterns on both seasonal and intra-annual time scales. The observed rates of pH change greatly exceed those expected from enhanced CO2 uptake, thus suggesting that other biogeochemical processes, possibly related to changes in nutrient loading, can play a dominant role in ocean acidification.

  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Morris, K. J.; Herrera, S.; Gubili, C.; Tyler, P. A.; Rogers, A.; Hauton, C.;
    Project: EC | HERMIONE (226354)

    Despite being an abundant group of significant ecological importance the phylogenetic relationships of the Octocorallia remain poorly understood and very much understudied. We used 1132 bp of two mitochondrial protein-coding genes, nad2 and mtMutS (previously referred to as msh1), to construct a phylogeny for 161 octocoral specimens from the Atlantic, including both Isididae and non-Isididae species. We found that four clades were supported using a concatenated alignment. Two of these (A and B) were in general agreement with the of Holaxonia–Alcyoniina and Anthomastus–Corallium clades identified by previous work. The third and fourth clades represent a split of the Calcaxonia–Pennatulacea clade resulting in a clade containing the Pennatulacea and a small number of Isididae specimens and a second clade containing the remaining Calcaxonia. When individual genes were considered nad2 largely agreed with previous work with MtMutS also producing a fourth clade corresponding to a split of Isididae species from the Calcaxonia–Pennatulacea clade. It is expected these difference are a consequence of the inclusion of Isisdae species that have undergone a gene inversion in the mtMutS gene causing their separation in the MtMutS only tree. The fourth clade in the concatenated tree is also suspected to be a result of this gene inversion, as there were very few Isidiae species included in previous work tree and thus this separation would not be clearly resolved. A~larger phylogeny including both Isididae and non Isididae species is required to further resolve these clades.