Anomalies in the carbonate system of Red Sea coastal habitats

by Kimberlee Baldry, Vincent Saderne, Daniel C. McCorkle, James H. Churchill, Susana Agusti, Carlos M. Duarte


Baldry, K., Saderne, V., McCorkle, D. C., Churchill, J. H., Agusti, S., & Duarte, C. M. (2020). Anomalies in the carbonate system of Red Sea coastal habitats. Biogeosciences17(2), 423-439.


We use observations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA) to assess the impact of ecosystem metabolic processes on coastal waters of the eastern Red Sea. A simple, single-end-member mixing model is used to account for the influence of mixing with offshore waters and evaporation–precipitation and to model ecosystem-driven perturbations on the carbonate system chemistry of coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests. We find that (1) along-shelf changes in TA and DIC exhibit strong linear relationships that are consistent with basin-scale net calcium carbonate precipitation; (2) ecosystem-driven changes in TA and DIC are larger than offshore variations in >70 % of sampled seagrass meadows and mangrove forests, changes which are influenced by a combination of longer water residence times and community metabolic rates; and (3) the sampled mangrove forests show strong and consistent contributions from both organic respiration and other sedimentary processes (carbonate dissolution and secondary redox processes), while seagrass meadows display more variability in the relative contributions of photosynthesis and other sedimentary processes (carbonate precipitation and oxidative processes). The results of this study highlight the importance of resolving the influences of water residence times, mixing and upstream habitats on mediating the carbonate system and coastal air–sea carbon dioxide fluxes over coastal habitats in the Red Sea.


Dissolved inorganic carbon Total alkalinity Coastal habitats Red Sea