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The Effect of Hurricanes on the Monthly Anomalies of pH and Dissolved Inorganic Carbon at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study site

Presenters Name: 
Kira Baugh
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Hyewon Kim
Secondary Research Mentor: 
Scott Doney
11:00 - 12:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 11:00am to 12:15pm
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Grant Program Recipient: 
Not a Recipient

Ecological processes have shown sensitive responses to changes in marine carbonate chemistry (e.g., dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentration and pH levels). Through water-column mixing via strong winds, hurricanes can introduce the changes in marine carbonate chemistry and possibly accelerate the process of ocean acidification. Initially, I hypothesized that pH levels and DIC concentration fluxes were linked to hurricane activity, given that colder water introduced from deep water due to hurricanes can absorb more CO_2 from the atmosphere. DIC and pH data collected from the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study site, located in the Sargasso Sea (31°40’N, 64°10’W), was analyzed in conjunction with historic hurricane track records to test this hypothesis. The results showed that hurricanes were linked to pH and DIC anomalies. Specifically, hurricanes were associated with a decrease in pH and an increase in DIC concentration (i.e., ocean acidification). In 7 out of the 12 of the cases examined, hurricanes caused a decrease in ocean pH, and in 8 of the 12 of the cases, hurricanes caused an increase in DIC concentration. The effects that hurricanes have on pH levels and DIC concentration indicate that hurricanes can negatively affect ocean ecosystems. As waters continue to warm and major hurricanes become more frequent, ecological processes may become even more vulnerable to climate change.