Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Marine Science

First Advisor

Tyler Cyronak

Second Advisor

David Gilliam

Third Advisor

Dorothy-Ellen A. Renegar


Ocean Acidification, Carbonate Chemistry, South Florida, Florida Reef Tract, Coral ECA, Kristin Jacobs Coral Ecosystem Conservation Area, Inlet, Total Alkalinity, Dissolved Inorganic Carbon, Outfall


The absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by ocean surface water is causing ocean acidification (OA), a process by which the reaction between water and CO2 changes ocean carbonate chemistry. Predictions of OA trajectories modeled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are based on open ocean trends and may not accurately predict changes to variable nearshore ecosystems. The dynamic nature of nearshore ocean chemistry, and prevalence of OA vulnerable species within these ecosystems complicates the process of making accurate OA impact predictions within the coastal zone. Florida’s coral reef is a nearshore ecosystem vulnerable to the effects of OA, as water chemistry along the east coast of Florida is influenced by the anthropogenically polluted and environmentally modified effluent carried out of its nearby inlets and waterways. Field samples collected during this study provide spatiotemporal data from 9 navigational inlets and five wastewater outfalls affecting the nearshore carbonate chemistry dynamics of the Kristin Jacobs Coral Ecosystem Conservation Area (Coral ECA) over the course of a year. Several notable trends were identified involving the carbonate system and associated environmental conditions. The concentrations of solutes in the freshwater endmembers were predicted through linear regressions with salinity and indicate that all inlets and outfalls within our sample region export greater amounts of inorganic carbon compared to alkalinity. The low ratio of alkalinity to dissolved inorganic carbon indicate that freshwater mixing could exacerbate ocean acidification in the nearshore coasts of South Florida. Furthermore, there was a trend between biogeochemical properties of the inlets with latitude, indicating diverse drivers of carbonate chemistry related to fundamental differences in the freshwater inputs along the coast. These results are intended to inform local and regional environmental management strategies with current and accurate carbonate chemistry measurements and may serve as environmental baselines by which future impact assessments may compare against.