Alkalinity changes in the Sargasso Sea: Geochemical evidence of calcification? Academic Article uri icon


  • Strong seasonal patterns in upper ocean total carbon dioxide (TCO2), alkalinity (TA) and calculated pCO2 were observed in a time series of water column measurements collected at the US Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) BATS site (3150N, 6410W) in the Sargasso Sea. TA distribution was a conservative function of salinity. However, in February 1992, a non-conservative decrease in TA was observed, with maximum depletion of 25-30 moles kg-1 occuring in the surface layer and at the depth of the chlorophyll maximum ( 80-100 m). Mixed-layer TCO2 also decreased, while surface pCO2 increased by 25-30 atm. We suggest these changes in carbon dioxide species resulted from open-ocean calcification by carbonate-secreting organisms rather than physical processes. Coccolithophore calcification is the most likely cause of this event although calcification by foraminifera or pteropods cannot be ruled out. Due to the transient increase in surface pCO2, the net annual transfer of CO2 into the ocean at BATS was reduced. These observations demonstrate the potential importance of open-ocean calcification and biological community structure in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon. 1996 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Bates, N. R., Michaels, A. F., & Knap, A. H.

citation count

  • 71

complete list of authors

  • Bates, NR||Michaels, AF||Knap, AH

publication date

  • January 1996