Free-ocean CO 2 enrichment (FOCE) systems: present status and future developments
Free-ocean CO 2 enrichment (FOCE) systems are designed to assess the impact of ocean acidification on biological communities in situ for extended periods of time (weeks to months). They overcome some of the drawbacks of laboratory experiments and field observations by enabling (1) precise control of CO 2 enrichment by monitoring pH as an offset of ambient pH, (2) consideration of indirect effects such as those mediated through interspecific relationships and food webs, and (3) relatively long experiments with intact communities. Bringing perturbation experiments from the laboratory to the field is, however, extremely challenging. The main goal of this paper is to provide guidelines on the general design, engineering, and sensor options required to conduct FOCE experiments. Another goal is to introduce xFOCE, a community-led initiative to promote awareness, provide resources for in situ perturbation experiments, and build a user community. Present and existing FOCE systems are briefly described and examples of data collected presented. Future developments are also addressed as it is anticipated that the next generation of FOCE systems will include, in addition to pH, options for oxygen and/or temperature control. FOCE systems should become an important experimental approach for projecting the future response of marine ecosystems to environmental change.