Sixteen-year phytoplankton biomass trends in the northwestern Pacific Ocean observed by the SeaWiFS and MODIS ocean color sensors
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Using multisensor/platform biophysical data collected from 1997 to 2013, we investigated trends of the concentrations of phytoplankton biomass (Chl) in the northwestern Pacific Ocean (NWPO) and the probable responsible factors. The trend of rising sea surface temperature (SST) was the main factor maintaining phytoplankton positive net growth and resulted in a trend of increasing Chl at high latitudes in all seasons. At latitudes of 36–46°N, east of 160°E, the trend of rising SST was accompanied by a trend of declining Chl, markedly in spring and fall, which could be ascribed to strengthened stratification. The trends of environmental variables in the Oyashio area have modified conditions in a way detrimental to phytoplankton growth, the result being a trend of declining Chl from spring to fall. Chl south of roughly 36°N exhibited different trends in different seasons because of the different trends of vertical stratification. Whereas the observed 16-year Chl trends were not primarily influenced by interannual climate variability, to some degree they were likely modified by decadal variability associated with a weakened Aleutian Low pressure. This work prompts further comprehensive studies to investigate the probable ecological consequences of the observed Chl trend for high-trophic-level marine organisms in the NWPO.
KeywordsRemote sensing Ocean color Chlorophyll-a Phytoplankton growth Light/nutrient limitation Climate change
This work was partially supported by the Asia–Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN, CAF2015-RR11-NMY-Siswanto). We thank the Ocean Biology Processing Group (code 614.2) at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA, for the production and distribution of their ocean color data. We also acknowledge the Remote Sensing Systems and Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC), Jet Propulsion Laboratory for processing and distributing SST and microwave-sensor-retrieved satellite data, respectively. We are grateful to three reviewers whose helpful comments, suggestions, and instructions substantially improved the paper.
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