Acidification counteracts negative effects of warming on diatom silicification

Alexandra Camba, Susana Agusti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diatoms are a significant group contributing up to 40 % of annual primary production in the oceans. They have a special siliceous cell wall that, acting as a ballast, plays a key role in the sequestration of global carbon and silica. Diatoms dominate primary production in the Arctic Ocean, where global climate change is causing increases in water temperature and in the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2). Here we show that as water temperature increases diatoms become stressed, grow to smaller sizes, and decrease their silicification rates. But at higher pCO2, as the pH of seawater decreases, silica incorporation rates are increased. In a future warmer Arctic ocean diatoms may have a competitive advantage under increased ocean acidification, as increased pCO2 counteracts the adverse effects of increasing temperature on silicification and buffers its consequences in the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and silica.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalBiogeosciences Discussions
StatePublished - Oct 24 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the project Arctic Tipping Points (ATP, contract # 226248) from the European Union. A. Coello-Camba was supported by a grant BES-2007-15193 from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. We thank project coordinators C.M. Duarte and P. Wassmann, the crew of R/V Jan Mayen and Viking Explorer for assistance with sampling, and The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) for their hospitality.


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