Science Meetings

Global Variability and Changes in Ocean Total Alkalinity from Aquarius Satellite
Fine, R., Willey, D., and Millero, F. (24-Feb-16)

To document effects of ocean acidification it is important to have an understanding of the processes and parameters that influence alkalinity. Alkalinity is a gauge on the ability of seawater to neutralize acids. We use Aquarius satellite data, which allow unprecedented global mapping of surface total alkalinity as it correlates strongly with salinity and to a lesser extent with temperature. Spatial variability in total alkalinity and salinity exceed temporal variability, the latter includes seasonal and differences compared to climatological data. The northern hemisphere has more spatial and monthly variability in total alkalinity and salinity, while less variability in Southern Ocean alkalinity is due to less salinity variability and upwelling of waters enriched in alkalinity. Satellite alkalinity data are providing a global baseline that can be used for comparing with future carbon data, and for evaluating spatial and temporal variability and past trends. For the first time it is shown that recent satellite derived total alkalinity in the subtropics have increased as compared with climatological data; this is reflective of large scale changes in the global water cycle. Total alkalinity increases imply increased dissolution of calcareous minerals and difficulty for calcifying organisms to make their shells.