The accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 in the oceans is altering seawater carbonate chemistry. Investigation and monitoring of the carbonate parameters is therefore necessary to understand potential impacts on ocean ecosystems. Total alkalinity (AT) and dissolved inorganic carbon (CT) were sampled across the Rockall Trough in Feb 2009 (CE0903) and Feb 2010 (CE10002) as part of a baseline study of inorganic carbon chemistry in Irish shelf waters. The results have been compared with data from WOCE surveys A01E (Sept 1991), A01 (Dec 1994), AR24 (Nov 1996), and A24 (June 1997). The 2009 and 2010 datasets provide a snapshot of the biogeochemical parameters which can act as a baseline of inorganic carbon and acidity levels in surface waters of the Rockall Trough in late winter for future comparison since previous surveys in the area have been affected by biological activity. The dataset also offers the possibility to compare decadal changes in subsurface waters. The temporal evolution of anthropogenic carbon (ΔCant) between the 1990s and 2010 was evaluated using two separate methods; (i) a comparison of the concentrations of CT between surveys, after correcting it for remineralisation of organic material and formation and dissolution of calcium carbonate (ΔCT-abio) and (ii) an extended Multiple Linear Regression was used to calculate the ΔCant (ΔCanteMLR). There was an increase in ΔCT-abio and ΔCanteMLR of 18±4μmol kg-1 and 19±4μmol kg-1, respectively, in the subsurface waters between 1991 and 2010, equivalent to a decrease of 0.040±0.003 pH units over the 19 year period. There was an increase in both ΔCT-abio and ΔCanteMLR of 8±4μmol kg-1 in Labrador Sea Water (LSW) in the Trough between 1991 and 2010, and LSW has acidified by 0.029±0.002 pH units over the same time period. A reduction in calcite and aragonite saturation states was observed, which may have implications for calcifying organisms in the region.
McGrath T., Kivimäe C., Tanhua T., Cave R. R. & McGovern E., in press. Inorganic carbon and pH levels in the Rockall Trough 1991–2010. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr.2012.05.011. Article (subscription required).