A model study of warming-induced phosphorus-oxygen feedbacks in open-ocean oxygen minimum zones on millennial timescales
Daniela Niemeyer1, Tronje P. Kemena1, Katrin J. Meissner2, and Andreas Oschlies11Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel (GEOMAR), Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany 2Climate Change Research Centre and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Level 4 Mathews Building, Sydney, New South Wales, 2052, Australia
Received: 20 Oct 2016 – Accepted for review: 29 Oct 2016 – Discussion started: 31 Oct 2016
Abstract. Observations indicate an expansion of oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) over the past 50 years, likely related to ongoing deoxygenation caused by reduced solubility, changes in stratification and circulation, and a potential acceleration of organic matter turnover in a warming climate. Higher temperatures also lead to enhanced weathering on land, which, in turn, increase the phosphorus and alkalinity flux into the ocean. The overall area of ocean sediments that are in direct contact with low oxygen bottom waters also increases with expanding OMZs. This leads to an additional release of phosphorus from ocean sediments and therefore raises the ocean's phosphorus inventory even further. Higher availability in phosphorus enhances biological production, remineralisation and oxygen consumption, and might therefore lead to further expansions of OMZs, representing a positive feedback. A negative feedback arises from the enhanced productivity-induced drawdown of carbon and also increased uptake of CO2 due to increased alkalinity, which, in turn, got there through weathering. This feedback leads to a decrease in atmospheric CO2 and weathering rates. Here we quantify these two competing feedbacks on millennial timescales for a high CO2 emission scenario. Using the UVic Earth System Climate Model of intermediate complexity, our model results suggest that the positive benthic phosphorus release feedback has only a minor impact on the size of OMZs in the next 1000 years, although previous studies assume that the phosphorus release feedback was the main factor for anoxic conditions during Cretaceous period. The increase in the marine phosphorus inventory under assumed business-as-usual global warming conditions originates, on millennial timescales, almost exclusively from the input via terrestrial weathering and causes a 4 to 5-fold expansion of the suboxic water volume in the model.
Niemeyer, D., Kemena, T. P., Meissner, K. J., and Oschlies, A.: A model study of warming-induced phosphorus-oxygen feedbacks in open-ocean oxygen minimum zones on millennial timescales, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., doi:10.5194/esd-2016-50, in review, 2016.