National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2017

Spatiotemporal assessment of CO2-carbonic acid system dynamics in a pristine coral reef ecosystem, French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Kealoha, A.K., F.T. Mackenzie, S.E. Kahng, R.K. Kosaki, S.R. Alin, and C.D. Winn

Aquat. Geochem., 23(2), 75–88, doi: 10.1007/s10498-017-9310-1 (2017)

Observations of surface seawater fugacity of carbon dioxide (fCO2) and pH were collected over a period of several days at French Frigate Shoals (FFS) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) in order to gain an understanding of the natural spatiotemporal variability of the marine inorganic carbon system in a pristine coral reef ecosystem. These data show clear island-to-open ocean gradients in fCO2 and total alkalinity that can be measured 10–20 km offshore, indicating that metabolic processes influence the CO2–carbonic acid system over large areas of ocean surrounding FFS and by implication the islands and atolls of the NWHI. The magnitude and extent of this spatial gradient may be driven by a combination of physical and biogeochemical processes including reef water residence time, hydrodynamic forcing of currents and tidal flow, and metabolic processes that occur both on the reef and within the lagoon.

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