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Millennial-scale plankton regime shifts in the subtropical North Pacific Ocean
McMahon, K.W.; McCarthy, M.D.; Sherwood, O.A.; Larsen, T.; Guilderson, T.P. (2015). Millennial-scale plankton regime shifts in the subtropical North Pacific Ocean. Science (Wash.) 350(6267): 1530-1533.
In: Science (Washington). American Association for the Advancement of Science: New York, N.Y. ISSN 0036-8075, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • McMahon, K.W.
  • McCarthy, M.D.
  • Sherwood, O.A.
  • Larsen, T.
  • Guilderson, T.P.

    Climate change is predicted to alter marine phytoplankton communities and affect productivity, biogeochemistry, and the efficacy of the biological pump. We reconstructed high-resolution records of changing plankton community composition in the North Pacific Ocean over the past millennium. Amino acid–specific d13C records preserved in long-lived deep-sea corals revealed three major plankton regimes corresponding to Northern Hemisphere climate periods. Non–dinitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria dominated during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950–1250 Common Era) before giving way to a new regime in which eukaryotic microalgae contributed nearly half of all export production during the Little Ice Age (~1400–1850 Common Era). The third regime, unprecedented in the past millennium, began in the industrial era and is characterized by increasing production by dinitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria. This picoplankton community shift may provide a negative feedback to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

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