Climatic modulation of recent trends in ocean acidification in the California Current System

G. Turi, Z. Lachkar, N. Gruber, M. Münnich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We reconstruct the evolution of ocean acidification in the California Current System (CalCS) from 1979 through 2012 using hindcast simulations with an eddy-resolving ocean biogeochemical model forced with observation-based variations of wind and fluxes of heat and fresh water. We find that domain-wide pH and ωarag in the top 60mof the water column decreased significantly over these three decades by about-0.02 decade-1 and-0.12 decade-1, respectively. In the near shore areas of northern California and Oregon, ocean acidification is reconstructed to have progressed much more rapidly, with rates up to 30% higher than the domain-wide trends. Furthermore, ocean acidification penetrated substantially into the thermocline, causing a significant domain-wide shoaling of the aragonite saturation depth of on average -33mdecade-1 and up to-50mdecade-1 in the near shore area of northern California. This resulted in a coast-wide increase in nearly undersaturated waters and the appearance of waters with ωarag < 1, leading to a substantial reduction of habitat suitability. Averaged over the whole domain, the main driver of these trends is the oceanic uptake of Anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere. However, recent changes in the climatic forcing have substantially modulated these trends regionally. This is particularly evident in the nearshore regions, where the total trends in pH are up to 50%larger and trends in ωarag and in the aragonite saturation depth are even twice to three times larger than the purely at mosphericCO2-driven trends. This modulation in the near shore regions is a result of the recent marked increase in alongshore wind stress, which brought elevated levels of dissolved inorganic carbon to the surface via upwelling. Our results demonstrate that changes in the climatic forcing need to be taken into consideration in future projections of the progression of ocean acidification in coastal upwelling regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014007
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 19 2016


  • California Current System
  • coastal ocean modeling
  • hindcast simulation
  • ocean acidification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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