Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Carbonate Chemistry in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Crystal Coughlin, Christopher D Winn and Sam Kahng, Hawaii Pacific University, Kaneohe, HI, United States
The rapid increase in atmospheric and surface ocean CO2 concentrations has the potential to drastically alter the metabolic processes particularly in nearshore ecosystems. However, much of what is known about carbonate chemistry is based on observations and analysis of surface waters of the open ocean where spatial and temporal variability is far less dynamic than in nearshore coral reef ecosystems. Carbon system dynamics data from four consecutive years has been examined in the coastal and nearshore waters of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. This data has been collected for the purpose of improving our understanding of the carbon system dynamics in this unique and pristine environment. The data collected includes continuous CTD data and discrete bottle samples, as well as continuous underway measurements. In addition to standard hydrographic profile data, water column alkalinity and pH have been measured on discrete water samples, and continuous underway measurements of pCO2 and pH have been obtained. This data is used to investigate the impact of NWHI coral reef ecosystems on the carbon system in and surrounding the archipelago. The data demonstrates that a significant “island mass effect” with respect to the oceanographic carbon system exists around the islands within the archipelago. In addition, spatial and temporal variability of several oceanographic features that exhibit a radial, latitudinal, or longitudinal gradient in the nearshore waters of the NWHI islands, islets, and atolls will be described. Finally, a shallow pH maximum coincident with the shallow oxygen maximum is observed, which suggests an open ocean feature substantially influenced by turbulence surrounding the islands within the monument. The data analysis and coral reef ecosystem monitoring will aid in developing a long-term plan to assist in the sustainability of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.