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Space-time variability of alkalinity in the Mediterranean Sea

September 22, 2014

MedSeA 150The results indicate that the Mediterranean Sea shows alkalinity values that are much higher than those observed in the Atlantic Ocean on a basin-wide scale. A marked west-to-east surface gradient of alkalinity is reproduced as a response to the terrestrial discharges, the mixing effect with the Atlantic water entering from the Gibraltar Strait and the Black Sea water from Dardanelles, and the surface flux of evaporation minus precipitation. Dense water production in marginal seas (Adriatic and Aegean Seas), where alkaline inputs are relevant, and the Mediterranean thermohaline circulation sustains the west-to-east gradient along the entire water column. In the surface layers, alkalinity has a relevant seasonal cycle (up to 40 μmol kg−1) that is driven both by physical and biological processes. A comparison of alkalinity vs. salinity indicates that different regions present different relationships. In regions of freshwater influence, the two measures are negatively correlated due to riverine alkalinity input, whereas they are positively correlated in open seas. Alkalinity always is much higher than in the Atlantic waters, which might indicate a higher than usual buffering capacity towards ocean acidification, even at high concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon.

Cossarini G, Lazzari P, Solidoro C, 2014: Space-time variability of alkalinity in the Mediterranean Sea, Biogeosciences Discuss., 11, 12871-12893, doi:10.5194/bgd-11-12871-2014. Article.

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