Reseachers Develop a New Way of Looking at Alkalinity Measurements

Dec. 19, 2014

In a new study led by former AOS Associate Research Oceanographer Brendan Carter, a research associate with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington, Carter and coauthors developed a new way of looking at alkalinity measurements.  Their methods allow them to better examine the chemical signatures of river water and of organisms that build their shells out of the mineral calcium carbonate.  They use their new methods to determine what controls the chemical saturation of calcium carbonate, which is thought to determine in part how easy it is for organisms to build their shells out of this mineral.  The authors find surface calcium carbonate saturation is primarily determined by gas exchange driven by warming and cooling, and secondarily by rain and evaporation.  Calcium carbonate cycling as the shells of organisms comes in third place.  J.R. Toggweiler, Bob Key and Jorge Sarmiento are coauthors of the study, published in Biogeosciences on December 19.

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