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Multidecadal Atlantic climate variability and its impact on marine pelagic communities

Harris, V; Edwards, M; Olhede, SC; (2014) Multidecadal Atlantic climate variability and its impact on marine pelagic communities. JOURNAL OF MARINE SYSTEMS , 133 55 - 69. 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2013.07.001. Green open access


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A large scale analysis of sea surface temperature (SST) and climate variability over the North Atlantic and its interactions with plankton over the North East Atlantic was carried out to better understand what drives both temperature and species abundance. The spatio-temporal pattern of SST was found to correspond to known climate indices, namely the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), the East Atlantic Pattern (EAP) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The spatial influence of these indices is heterogeneous. Although the AMO is present across all regions, it is most strongly represented in the SST signal in the subpolar gyre region. The NAO instead is strongly weighted in the North Sea and the pattern of its influence is oscillatory in space with a wavelength of approximately 6000 km. Natural oscillations might obscure the influence of climate change effects, making it difficult to determine how much of the variation is attributable to longer term trends. In order to separate the influences of different climate signals the SST signals were decomposed in to spatial and temporal components using principal component analysis (PCA). A similar analysis is carried out on various indicator species of plankton: Calanus finmarchicus, Phytoplankton Colour Index and total copepod abundance, as well as phytoplankton and zooplankton communities. By comparing the two outputs it is apparent that the dominant driver is the recent warming trend, which has a negative influence on C. finmarchicus and total copepods, but has a positive one on phytoplankton colour. However natural oscillations also influence the abundance of plankton, in particular the AMO is a driver of diatom abundance. Fourier principal component analysis, an approach which is novel in terms of the ecological data, was used to analyse the behaviour of various communities averaged over space. The zooplankton community is found to be primarily influenced by climate warming trends. The analysis provides compelling evidence for the hypothesis that cold water species are gradually being replaced by more temperate species in the North Atlantic. This may have detrimental effects for the entire marine ecosystem, by affecting on organisms such as fish larva for example. The second group, a phytoplankton subset consisting primarily of diatom species, is primarily influenced by the AMO rather than the average temperature trend. This result highlights the importance of natural oscillations to certain functional groups, in particular those subgroups which are less directly metabolically affected by changes in temperature.

Type: Article
Title: Multidecadal Atlantic climate variability and its impact on marine pelagic communities
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2013.07.001
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2013.07.001
Additional information: © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in anymedium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, Continuous Plankton Recorder, Climate change, Phytoplankton, Zooplankton
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Statistical Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1427430
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