A multi-tracer model approach to estimate reef water residence times

A. Venti, D. Kadko, A. J. Andersson, C. Langdon, N. R. Bates

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 10:1078-1095 (2012) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2012.10.1078

ABSTRACT: We present a new method for obtaining the residence time of coral reef waters and demonstrate the successful application of this method by estimating rates of net ecosystem calcification (NEC) at four locations across the Bermuda platform and showing that the rates thus obtained are in reasonable agreement with independent estimates based on different methodologies. The contrast in 7Be activity between reef and offshore waters can be related to the residence time of the waters over the reef through a time-dependent model that takes into account the rainwater flux of 7Be, the radioactive half-life of 7Be, and the rate of removal of 7Be on particles estimated from 234Th. Sampling for 7Be and 234Th was conducted during the late fall and winter between 2008 and 2010. Model results yielded residence times ranging from 1.4 (± 0.7) days at the rim reef to 12 (± 4.0) days closer to shore. When combined with measurements of salinity-normalized total alkalinity anomalies, these residence times yielded platform-average NEC rates ranging from a maximum of 20.3 (± 7.0) mmol CaCO3 m-2 d-1 in Nov 2008 to a minimum of 2.5 (± 0.8) mmol CaCO3 m-2 d-1 in Feb 2009. The advantage of this new approach is that the rates of NEC obtained are temporally and spatially averaged. This novel approach for estimating NEC rates may be applicable to other coral reef ecosystems, providing an opportunity to assess how these rates may change in the context of ocean acidification.