Effect of Ocean Acidification on Organic and Inorganic Speciation of Trace Metals

Anthony Stockdale, Edward Tipping, Stephen Lofts, Robert J.G. Mortimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide are causing acidification of the oceans. This results in changes to the concentrations of key chemical species such as hydroxide, carbonate and bicarbonate ions. These changes will affect the distribution of different forms of trace metals. Using IPCC data for pCO2 and pH under four future emissions scenarios (to the year 2100) we use a chemical speciation model to predict changes in the distribution of organic and inorganic forms of trace metals. Under a scenario where emissions peak after the year 2100, predicted free ion Al, Fe, Cu, and Pb concentrations increase by factors of up to approximately 21, 2.4, 1.5, and 2.0 respectively. Concentrations of organically complexed metal typically have a lower sensitivity to ocean acidification induced changes. Concentrations of organically complexed Mn, Cu, Zn, and Cd fall by up to 10%, while those of organically complexed Fe, Co, and Ni rise by up to 14%. Although modest, these changes may have significance for the biological availability of metals given the close adaptation of marine microorganisms to their environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1906-1913
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


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