Turning Sour, Bloated, and Out of Breath: Ocean Chemistry under Global Warming
Ito, Takamitsu (Taka)
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In 1997, the Japanese oceanographer Yoshiyuki Nozaki compiled a periodic table of ocean chemistry, encapsulating the distribution of elements as a function of depth. In this periodic table, many elements share similar patterns, classified into just a few categories. The similarities indicate a common set of mechanisms behind the ocean cycling of elements. The interaction of ocean circulation, chemistry, and biology sets the distribution of elements in the ocean. For example, nonreactive elements are nearly uniformly distributed in the water column, homogenized by ocean circulation and mixing. Nutrient elements are depleted near the surface because of biological consumption and enriched in mid-depth due to decomposition of organic matter. Some trace metals – such as Fe, Zn, Ni, and Cd – follow this pattern. In contrast, some heavy metals – like Al, Mn, Co, and Pb – are subsumed into particles and removed from seawater. Building on the insights from Nozaki’s periodic table, this talk will interpret recent measurements of changing seawater chemistry, highlighting the importance of rising carbon dioxide concentration in the air, climate change, and pollution of rivers and atmosphere.