Since late 2000, we have acquired partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) data underway with an equilibrator coupled to an infra-red gas analyser on all the cruises carried out on RV Belgica. Here, we discuss the decadal changes of pCO2 during winter-time in the Southern North Sea. The trends are faster than those reported in open oceanic waters, although strongly modulated by inter-annual variability that seems to be related to the North Atlantic Oscillation.
Lake Grevelingen in the South West Netherlands is a former estuary locked off from the sea by two dikes and a brackish lake since 1971 (salinities from 29 to 33 during our sampling). It is connected with the North Sea by sluices, has a surface area of 108 km2, a mean depth of 5.3 m, a maximum depth of 48 m, and about 60% of the area the depth is less than 5 m. In summer, anoxia occurs in bottom waters. From January 2012 to December 2012 a biogeochemical survey was conducted at monthly interval at a fixed station (35 m depth) at Den Osse. Here, we focus on the analysis of partial pressure of CO2, and concentrations of CH4 and N2O obtained throughout the water column. pCO2 followed a typical seasonal cycle for temperate coastal environments shifting from CO2 over-saturation in winter to spring CO2 under-saturation due to the spring phytoplankton bloom, and shifting back to over-saturation in fall. Unlike the adjacent Southern Bight of the North Sea and the adjacent Oosterschelde, CO2 under-saturation prevailed in summer in Lake Grevelingen. CH4 values were minimal in winter ( 20 nM) and as stratification developed during spring and summer a distinct maximum of CH4 (up to 730 nM) developed at the pycnocline (5 to 10 m). N2O showed little seasonal variations and only a very faint increase with depth, except in August when bottom waters became anoxic. At this time, N2O shown a maximum ( 22 nM) at the oxycline (probably related to enhanced N2O production by nitrification at low O2 concentrations), and decreased in the anoxic layer ( 3 nM) (probably related to denitrification).
We report a data-set of dissolved methane (CH4) in three rivers (Como,, Bia and Tano,) and five lagoons (Grand-Lahou, Ebri,, Potou, Aby and Tendo) of Ivory Coast (West Africa), during the four main climatic seasons (high dry season, high rainy season, low dry season and low rainy season). The surface waters of the three rivers were over-saturated in CH4 with respect to atmospheric equilibrium (2221-38719%), and the seasonal variability of CH4 seemed to be largely controlled by dilution during the flooding period. The strong correlation of CH4 concentrations with the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO(2)) and dissolved silicate (DSi) confirm the dominance of a continental sources (from soils) for both CO2 and CH4 in these rivers. Diffusive air-water CH4 fluxes ranged between 25 and 1187 mu mol m(-2) day(-1), and annual integrated values were 288 +/- A 107, 155 +/- A 38, and 241 +/- A 91 mu mol m(-2) day(-1) in the Como,, Bia and Tano, rivers, respectively. In the five lagoons, surface waters were also over-saturated in CH4 (ranging from 1496 to 51843%). Diffusive air-water CH4 fluxes ranged between 20 and 2403 mu mol m(-2) day(-1), and annual integrated values were 78 +/- A 34, 338 +/- A 217, 227 +/- A 79, 330 +/- A 153 and 326 +/- A 181 mu mol m(-2) day(-1) in the Grand-Lahou, Ebri,, Potou, Aby and Tendo lagoons, respectively. The largest CH4 over-saturations were observed in the Tendo and Aby lagoons that are permanently stratified systems (unlike the other three lagoons), leading to anoxic bottom waters favorable for a large CH4 production. In addition, these two stratified lagoons showed low pCO(2) values due to high primary production, which suggests an efficient transfer of organic matter across the pycnocline. As a result, the stratified Tendo and Aby lagoons were respectively, a low source of CO2 to the atmosphere and a sink of atmospheric CO2 while the other three well-mixed lagoons were strong sources of CO2 to the atmosphere but less over-saturated in CH4.
We report a data set of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) obtained during three cruises in the northern Bay of Biscay carried out in June 2006, May 2007, and May 2008. During these cruises, blooms of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi occurred, as indicated by patches of high reflectance on remote sensing images, phytoplankton pigment signatures, and microscopic examinations. Total alkalinity showed a nonconservative behavior as a function of salinity due to the cumulative effect of net community calcification (NCC) on seawater carbonate chemistry during bloom development. The cumulative effect of NCC and net community production (NCP) on DIC and the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO(2)) were evaluated. The decrease of DIC (and increase of pCO(2)) due to NCC was overwhelmingly lower than the decrease of DIC (and decrease of pCO(2)) due to NCP (NCC: NCP << 1). During the cruises, the northern Bay of Biscay acted as a sink of atmospheric CO2 (on average similar to-9.7 mmol C m(-2) d(-1) for the three cruises). The overall effect of NCC in decreasing the CO2 sink during the cruises was low (on average similar to 12% of total air-sea CO2 flux). If this is a general feature in naturally occurring phytoplankton blooms in the North Atlantic Ocean (where blooms of coccolithophores are the most intense and recurrent), and in the global ocean, then the potential feedback on increasing atmospheric CO2 of the projected decrease of pelagic calcification due to thermodynamic CO2 "production" from calcification is probably minor compared to potential feedbacks related to changes of NCP.
We present a data-set of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) obtained during three cruises in the northern Bay of Biscay carried out in June 2006, May 2007, and May 2008. During these cruises, blooms of coccolithophores occurred, as indicated by patches of high reflectance on remote sensing images, phytoplankton pigment signatures, and microscopic examinations. Total alkalinity (TA) showed a non-conservative behaviour as a function of salinity due to the cumulated effect of net community calcification (NCC) during bloom development on seawater carbonate chemistry. The cumulated impact of NCC and net community production (NCP) on DIC and the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) were evaluated. The decrease of DIC (and increase of pCO2) due to NCC was overwhelmingly lower than the decrease of DIC (and decrease of pCO2) due to NCP (NCC:NCP « 1). During the cruises, the northern Bay of Biscay acted as a sink of atmospheric CO2 (on average -9.7 mmol C m-2 d-1 for the 3 cruises). The overall effect of NCC in decreasing the CO2 sink during the cruises was low (on average 12% of total air-sea CO2 flux). If this is a general feature in naturally occurring phytoplankton blooms in the northern North Atlantic Ocean (where coccolithophorid blooms are the most intense and recurrent), and in the global ocean, then the potential feed-back on increasing atmospheric CO2 of the projected decrease of pelagic calcification due to thermodynamic CO2 “production” from calcification is probably minor compared to feed-backs related to changes of NCP.
Meiofaunal communities of the endemic Mediterranean seagrass, Posidonia oceanica, were sampled in five different habitats characterised by different degradation level of macrophytodetritus. In term of abundance, harpacticoid copepods represent half of the community followed by nematodes and polychaetes. Two meiofauna communities were distinguished: (1) a benthic community of meiofauna, living in the sediment or on highly fragmented macrophytodetritus, and (2) a foliar, epiphytal community associated with seagrass leaves and low fragmented macrophytodetritus leaves. They differed significantly in their harpacticoid copepod family composition. The benthic community consisted mainly of families like Tisbidae and Miraciidae, while the epiphytal community was dominated by families like Thalestridae and Laophontidae. These differences in composition may also imply a differential functional diversity. Trophic biomarkers (stable isotopes, fatty acids) were used to identify the major sources of organic matter contributing to the copepods diet and hence to gain insight in the overall carbon flux. Harpacticoid copepods showed preferences to feed upon the epiphytal biofilm community composed of bacteria, diatoms, fungi and microalgae. Copepods used the seagrass and detritus material merely as substrate, but were attracted to the biofilm rather than the plant material which is rich in structural carbohydrates difficult to assimilate by animals (i.e. lignin, cellulose, .). Since harpacticoid copepods showed to use different sources of carbon, unravelling the contribution of each of them and the role of the degradation level of the detritus for food selectivity is the next step forward.
The Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica meadow losses every fall the major part of its leaf biomass after senescing. These phytodetritus may decay within the meadow, be buried or be exported to other habitats. They form large litter accumulations, notably on shallow water sand patches. Such accumulation host many organisms which participate to the degradation of this material. In a first step to understand the dynamics of these accumulations and of their associated biota, we have characterised their physico-chemical heterogeneity at different seasons. We measured the dissolved oxygen, nutrients and sulphide concentrations in interstitial waters from litter accumulations varying regarding their phytodetritus composition, fragmentation level and thickness. Results show that oxygen conditions were highly variable depending on litter thickness but also on local hydrodynamics. Anoxic conditions and presence of sulphide were sometimes measured, particularly in very thick litter or in degraded litter at the end of summer. Colonies of sulphur-oxidising bacteria were observed. Litter accumulations were also often enriched in ammonium and, sometimes, in dissolved phosphorus. It is not clear whether this results from the litter degradation within the accumulation or whether this is a consequence of a barrier effect between sediment and water column. Nevertheless, this makes litter accumulations particularly attractive for micro-phytobenthic producers. Litter accumulations appear as key habitats both to understand the dead-face of seagrass dynamics and its consequence for C cycle in coastal areas and to study the consequence of hypoxia on biodiversity in a natural context.
In coastal waters, a purely field observation based approach will probably be insufficient to better constrain estimates of air-sea CO2 fluxes, to study their inter-annual variability and their long-term changes. One approach to achieve these goals is to use remotely sensed fields of relevant biogeochemical variables to extrapolate available data, and produce maps of the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and air-sea CO2 fluxes. In the open ocean this approach has to some extent been successfully used based on fields of chlorophyll-a (Chla) and sea surface temperature (SST). This approach remains challenging in coastal waters that have complex optical properties (Case-II waters) and that exhibit highly dynamic pCO2 temporal and spatial variations. In the frame of the Belgian funded BELCOLOUR-II project (Optical remote sensing of marine, coastal and inland waters; http://www.mumm.ac.be/BELCOLOUR/), three field cruises per year (April, July and September) for optical measurements were carried in 2007, 2008, 2009 in the Southern Bight of the North Sea (SBNS). Based on these data-sets, we derived algorithms to compute pCO2 from Chl-a and sea surface salinity (SSS) using multipolynomial regressions (MPR). Here we report the first application of the MPR algorithms to derive pCO2 fields in the Belgian coastal zone based on data gathered in 2007, using remote sensed Chl-a (MERIS) and SSS computed with a 3-D hydrodynamical model of SBNS (COHERENS).
Pelagic and benthic processes were determined in the nothern Bay of Biscay when coccolithophores blooms occured between 2006 and 2008. Here we present a synthesis of pelagic primary production, calcification and respiration and benthic respiration and dissolution of CaCO3. Or results suggest that CaCO3 dissolution in the surface sediments is small (~1%) compared to integrated pelagic calcification. Benthic respiration increases with the organic load of the sediment and represents ~8% of the integrated pelagic respiration. The relationship between dissolution and respiration rates suggests a metabolic driven dissolution in waters supersaturated with respect to calcite (omega>3.5). We address a mass balance of the described processes and associated CO2 fluxes in the water column.
Balch et al. (2007) evaluated global pelagic contemporary calcification from remote sensing data (mainly associated to coccolithophores) to 1.6 ± 0.3 Pg PIC yr-1 (1 Pg = 1015 g; PIC = particulate inorganic carbon). This would imply that coccolithophores would be the most important pelagic calcifier in the oceans, since other estimates of contemporary global pelagic calcification range between 0.7 Pg PIC yr-1 based on accumulation rates and sediment trap data (Milliman et al. 1999), and 1.4 Pg PIC yr-1, based on the seasonal cycle of total alkalinity (TA) in the euphotic zone (Lee 2001). The development of coccolithophorid blooms affects the seawater carbonate chemistry, and air-sea CO2 fluxes, through the organic carbon pump and the carbonate counter-pump. The ratio between calcification (carbonate counter-pump), and organic carbon production (organic carbon pump), the C:P ratio, depends on the life cycle (bloom development), and growth conditions of coccolithophores. At the onset of the coccolithophorid bloom, when nutrients are available for growth, organic carbon production dominates over calcification (C:P << 1, the so-called organic phase). At the end of the bloom, in nutrient depleted conditions, and high irradiances (due to stronger stratification), organic carbon production decreases and calcification increases (C:P ≤ 1, the so-called inorganic phase). Several manipulative experiments to test the effect of ocean acidification on coccolithophores have shown that while calcification would decrease, the export of organic carbon would increase mainly through increasing transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) production. For a credible implementation in mathematical models of such feed-back mechanisms to allow the projection of a future evolution of carbon biogeochemistry under global change, it is required to understand present day biogeochemistry and ecology of naturally occurring pelagic calcifying communities. In particular, the overall effect of phytoplankton communities on the C:P ratio, and the net effect on carbonate chemistry, and related air-sea CO2 fluxes.
Coccolithophores, the dominant pelagic calcifiers in the oceans, play a key role in the marine carbon cycle through calcification, primary production and carbon export, the main rivers of the biological CO2 pump. In May 2002 a cruise was conducted on the outer shelf of the North West European continental margin, from the north Bay of Biscay to the Celtic Sea (47.0°-50.5°N, 5.0°-11.0°W), an area where massive blooms of Emiliania huxleyi are observed annually. Biogeochemical variables including primary production, calcification, partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2), chlorophyll-a (Chl-a), particle load, particulate organic and inorganic carbon (POC, PIC) and 234Th, were measured in surface waters to assess particle dynamic and carbon export in relation to the development of a coccolithophore bloom. We observed a marked northward decrease in Chl-a concentration and calcification rates: the bloom exhibited lower values and may less well developed in the Goban Spur area. The export fluxes of POC and PIC from the top 80 m, determined using the ratios of POC and PIC to 234Th of particles, ranged from 81 to 323 mgC m-2 d-1 and from 30 to 84 mgC m-2 d-1, respectively. The highest fluxes were observed in waters presenting a well-developed coccolithophore bloom, as shown by high reflectance of surface waters. This experiment confirms that the occurrence of coccolithophores promotes efficient export of organic and inorganic carbon on the North-West European margin.
Measurement and use of stable isotope ratios have a long history at the University of Liege (Belgium). Since at least 30 years, applications of stable isotopes in marine ecosystems have been developed within the Laboratory of Oceanology and, more recently, within the Chemical Oceanography Unit. In the Laboratory of Oceanology, one research axis is the measurement of stable isotope composition (C, N, S) in organic matter to delineate trophic web structure and to study animal diet, their trophic niches and their alteration by human activities. This methodology has been successively applied worldwide in different habitats and ecosystems (marine, freshwater, terrestrial) in temperate and tropical areas. Mediterranean food web and fish trophic ecology have received a particular attention. Coupling between trophic ecology and ecotoxicology is another area of investigation. This has been applied mainly to marine vertebrates and freshwater ecosystems. Stable isotope labelling is also used in our laboratory to study and quantify various ecological processes such as inorganic nitrogen incorporation and trophic transfers. The laboratory facilities, renewed in 2012 and managed by Dr. Gilles Lepoint, are composed of an elemental analyser (EA, vario MICRO cube, Elementar) and a gas chromatography (GC, Agilent) coupled to an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS, Isoprime 100). The GC is also equipped with a quadrupole mass spectrometer. In 2014, the Chemical Oceanography Unit, headed by Dr. Alberto Borges, has acquired and implemented an off-axis cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) for the measurements of δ15Nα, δ15Nβ, δ18O of N2O. This enables characterization of the N2O origin in a variety of aquatic environments including groundwater in Wallonia, rivers and lakes in Wallonia and Africa, coastal environments (Scheldt estuary, Lake Grevelingen, North Sea), Mediterranean seagrass beds, and Antarctic and Arctic sea-ice.