Subsurface pH and carbonate saturation state of aragonite on the Chinese side of the North Yellow Sea: seasonal variations and controls
Based upon eight field surveys conducted between May 2011 and May 2012, we investigated seasonal variations in pH, carbonate saturation state of aragonite (Ω arag), and ancillary data on the Chinese side of the North Yellow Sea, a western North Pacific continental margin of major economic importance. Subsurface waters were CO 2-undersaturated in May and nearly in equilibrium with atmospheric CO 2 in June. From July to October, the fugacity of CO 2 ( fCO 2) of bottom water gradually increased from 438 ± 44 μatm to 630 ± 84 μatm, and pH T decreased from 8.02 ± 0.04 to 7.88 ± 0.06 due to local aerobic remineralization of primary-production-induced biogenic particles. The subsurface community respiration rates in summer and autumn were estimated to be from 0.80 to 1.08 μmol-O 2 kg −1 d −1 within a relatively high salinity range of 31.63 to 32.25. From November to May in the next year, however, subsurface fCO 2 gradually decreased and pH increased due to cooling and water column ventilation. The corresponding bottom water Ω arag was 1.85 ± 0.21 (May), 1.79 ± 0.24 (June), 1.75 ± 0.27 (July), 1.76 ± 0.29 (August), 1.45 ± 0.31 (October), 1.52 ± 0.25 (November), and 1.41 ± 0.12 (January). Extremely low Ω arag values (from 1.13 to 1.40) were observed mainly in subsurface waters within the high salinity range of 31.63 to 32.25, which covered a major fraction of the study area in October and November. Of the China seas, the North Yellow Sea represents one of the systems most vulnerable to the potential negative effects of ocean acidification.