Controls on surface water carbonate chemistry along North American ocean margins

Wei Jun Cai, Yuan Yuan Xu, Richard A. Feely, Rik Wanninkhof, Bror Jönsson, Simone R. Alin, Leticia Barbero, Jessica N. Cross, Kumiko Azetsu-Scott, Andrea J. Fassbender, Brendan R. Carter, Li Qing Jiang, Pierre Pepin, Baoshan Chen, Najid Hussain, Janet J. Reimer, Liang Xue, Joseph E. Salisbury, José Martín Hernández-Ayón, Chris LangdonQian Li, Adrienne J. Sutton, Chen Tung A. Chen, Dwight K. Gledhill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Syntheses of carbonate chemistry spatial patterns are important for predicting ocean acidification impacts, but are lacking in coastal oceans. Here, we show that along the North American Atlantic and Gulf coasts the meridional distributions of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and carbonate mineral saturation state (Ω) are controlled by partial equilibrium with the atmosphere resulting in relatively low DIC and high Ω in warm southern waters and the opposite in cold northern waters. However, pH and the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) do not exhibit a simple spatial pattern and are controlled by local physical and net biological processes which impede equilibrium with the atmosphere. Along the Pacific coast, upwelling brings subsurface waters with low Ω and pH to the surface where net biological production works to raise their values. Different temperature sensitivities of carbonate properties and different timescales of influencing processes lead to contrasting property distributions within and among margins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2691
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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