Controls on near-bed oxygen concentration on the Northwest European Continental Shelf under a potential future climate scenario

Wakelin, Sarah L. ORCID:; Artioli, Yuri; Holt, Jason T. ORCID:; Butenschön, Momme; Blackford, Jeremy. 2020 Controls on near-bed oxygen concentration on the Northwest European Continental Shelf under a potential future climate scenario. Progress in Oceanography, 187, 102400.

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Dissolved oxygen concentrations in the ocean are declining on a global scale. However, the impact of climate change on oxygen in shelf seas is not well understood. We investigate potential future changes in oxygen on the northwest European continental shelf under a business as usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway RCP8.5). Regions of the European shelf are thermally stratified from spring to autumn, which can cause oxygen depletion in sub-pycnocline waters. A transient climate-forced model simulation is used to study how the temperature, salinity and concentration of near bed dissolved oxygen change over the 21st century. In warming and freshening water, the oxygen concentration declines in all shelf regions. The climate change signal emerges first in salinity, then in temperature and finally in near bed oxygen. Regions that currently experience oxygen depletion (the eastern North Sea, Celtic Sea and Armorican shelf) become larger in the future scenario and oxygen depletion lasts longer. Solubility changes, caused by changes in temperature and salinity, are the dominant cause of reducing near bed oxygen concentrations in many regions. Until about 2040 the impact of solubility dominates over the effects of the evolving ecosystem. However, in the eastern North Sea by 2100, the effect of ecosystem change is generally larger than that of solubility. In the Armorican Shelf and Celtic Sea the ecosystem changes partially mitigate the oxygen decline caused by solubility changes. Over the 21st century the mean near bed oxygen concentration on the European shelf is projected to decrease by 6.3%, of which 73% is due to solubility changes and the remainder to changes in the ecosystem. For monthly minimum oxygen the decline is 7.7% with the solubility component being 50% of the total.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 00796611
Date made live: 18 Nov 2020 13:04 +0 (UTC)

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