Seawater carbonate chemistry and its effects on properties and sinking velocity of aggregates of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi, 2010


Coccolithophores play an important role in organic matter export due to their production of the mineral calcite that can act as ballast. Recent studies indicated that calcification in coccolithophores may be affected by changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. We investigated the influence of CO2 on the aggregation and sinking behaviour of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi (PML B92/11) during a laboratory experiment. The coccolithophores were grown under low (~180 µatm), medium (~380 µatm), and high (~750 µatm) CO2 conditions. Aggregation of the cells was promoted using roller tables. Size and settling velocity of aggregates were determined during the incubation using video image analysis. Our results indicate that aggregate properties are sensitive to changes in the degree of ballasting, as evoked by ocean acidification. Average sinking velocity was highest for low CO2 aggregates (~1292 m d-1) that also had the highest particulate inorganic to particulate organic carbon (PIC/POC) ratio. Lowest PIC/POC ratios and lowest sinking velocity (~366 m d-1) at comparable sizes were observed for aggregates of the high CO2 treatment. Aggregates of the high CO2 treatment showed a 4-fold lower excess density (~4.210-4 g cm-3) when compared to aggregates from the medium and low CO2 treatments (~1.7 g10-3 cm-3). We also observed that more aggregates formed in the high CO2 treatment, and that those aggregates contained more bacteria than aggregates in the medium and low CO2 treatment. If applicable to the future ocean, our findings suggest that a CO2 induced reduction of the calcite content of aggregates could weaken the deep export of organic matter in the ocean, particularly in areas dominated by coccolithophores.

In order to allow full comparability with other ocean acidification data sets, the R package seacarb (Lavigne and Gattuso, 2011) was used to compute a complete and consistent set of carbonate system variables, as described by Nisumaa et al. (2010). In this dataset the original values were archived in addition with the recalculated parameters (see related PI).

Supplement to: Biermann, Antje; Engel, Anja (2010): Effect of CO2 on the properties and sinking velocity of aggregates of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. Biogeosciences, 7(3), 1017-1029

Related Identifier
Metadata Access
Creator Biermann, Antje; Engel, Anja
Publisher PANGAEA
Contributor Nisumaa, Anne-Marin
Publication Year 2010
Funding Reference Seventh Framework Programme, 211384; Sixth Framework Programme, 511106
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported;
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Supplementary Dataset; Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 246 data points
Discipline Earth System Research
Temporal Coverage Begin 2007-06-07T00:00:00Z
Temporal Coverage End 2007-06-14T00:00:00Z