Acidification of surface seawater owing to anthropogenic activities has raised serious concerns on its consequences for marine calcifying organisms and ecosystems. To acquire knowledge concerning the future consequences of ocean acidification (OA), researchers have relied on incubation experiments with organisms exposed to future seawater conditions, numerical models, evidence from the geological record, and recently, observations from aquatic environments exposed to naturally high CO2 and low pH, e.g., owing to volcanic CO2 vents, upwelling, and groundwater input. In the present study, we briefly evaluate the distribution of dissolved CO2–carbonic acid parameters at (1) two locations in the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean as a function of depth, (2) a mangrove environment in Bermuda, (3) a seasonally stratified body of water in a semi-enclosed sound in Bermuda, and (4) in temporarily isolated tide pools in Southern California. We demonstrate that current in situ conditions of seawater pCO2, pH, and CaCO3 saturation state (Ω) in these environments are similar or even exceed the anticipated changes to these parameters in the open ocean over the next century as a result of OA. The observed differences between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans with respect to seawater CO2–carbonic acid chemistry, preservation of CaCO3 minerals, and the occurrence and distribution of deep-sea marine calcifiers, support the hypothesized negative effects of OA on the production and preservation of CaCO3 in surface seawater. Clues provided from shallow near-shore environments in Bermuda and Southern California support these predictions, but also highlight that many marine calcifiers already experience relatively high seawater pCO2 and low pH conditions.

DOI: 10.1007/s10498-013-9210-y