Oxygen and carbonate system parameters were measured, in situ, over diurnal cycles in Tampa Bay and Florida Bay, Florida. All system parameters showed distinct diurnal trends in Tampa Bay with an average range of diurnal variation of 39.1 μmol kg− 1 for total alkalinity, 165.1 μmol kg− 1 for total CO2, 0.22 for pH, 0.093 mmol L− 1 for dissolved oxygen, and 218.1 μatm for pCO2. Average range of diurnal variation for system parameters in Tampa Bay was 73% to 93% of the seasonal range of variability for dissolved oxygen and pH. All system parameters measured in Florida Bay showed distinct variation over diurnal time-scales. However, clear diurnal trends were less evident. The average range of diurnal variability in Florida Bay was 62.8 μmol kg− 1 for total alkalinity, 130.4 μmol kg− 1 for total CO2, 0.13 for pH, 0.053 mmol L− 1 for dissolved oxygen, and 139.8 μatm for pCO2. The average range of diurnal variation was 14% to 102% of the seasonal ranges for these parameters. Diurnal variability in system parameters was most influenced by primary productivity and respiration of benthic communities in Tampa Bay, and by precipitation and dissolution of calcium carbonate in Florida Bay. Our data indicate that use of seasonal data sets without careful consideration of diurnal variability may impart significant error in calculations of annual carbon and oxygen budgets. These observations reinforce the need for higher temporal resolution measurements of oxygen and carbon system parameters in coastal ecosystems.