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Enhanced silica export in a future ocean triggers global diatom decline

Citation

Taucher, J and Bach, LT and Prowe, AEF and Boxhammer, T and Kvale, K and Riebesell, U, Enhanced silica export in a future ocean triggers global diatom decline, Nature, 605 pp. 696-700. ISSN 0028-0836 (2022) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright Statement

The Author(s) 2022, corrected publication 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41586-022-04687-0

Abstract

Diatoms account for up to 40% of marine primary production and require silicic acid to grow and build their opal shell. On the physiological and ecological level, diatoms are thought to be resistant to, or even benefit from, ocean acidification. Yet, global-scale responses and implications for biogeochemical cycles in the future ocean remain largely unknown. Here we conducted five in situ mesocosm experiments with natural plankton communities in different biomes and find that ocean acidification increases the elemental ratio of silicon (Si) to nitrogen (N) of sinking biogenic matter by 17 6 per cent under pCO2 conditions projected for the year 2100. This shift in Si:N seems to be caused by slower chemical dissolution of silica at decreasing seawater pH. We test this finding with global sediment trap data, which confirm a widespread influence of pH on Si:N in the oceanic water column. Earth system model simulations show that a future pH-driven decrease in silica dissolution of sinking material reduces the availability of silicic acid in the surface ocean, triggering a global decline of diatoms by 1326 per cent due to ocean acidification by the year 2200. This outcome contrasts sharply with the conclusions of previous experimental studies, thereby illustrating how our current understanding of biological impacts of ocean change can be considerably altered at the global scale through unexpected feedback mechanisms in the Earth system.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ocean acidification, phytoplankton, diatoms
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Biological oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of pelagic marine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Bach, LT (Dr Lennart Bach)
ID Code:155107
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT200100846)
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2023-01-30
Last Modified:2023-03-20
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