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Revaluating ocean warming impacts on global phytoplankton
Behrenfeld, M.J.; O'Malley, R.T.; Boss, E.S.; Westberry, T.K.; Graff, J.R.; Halsey, K.H.; Milligan, A.J.; Siegel, D.A.; Brown, M.B. (2015). Revaluating ocean warming impacts on global phytoplankton. Nat. Clim. Chang. 6(3): 323-330.
In: Nature Climate Change. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 1758-678X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Behrenfeld, M.J.
  • O'Malley, R.T.
  • Boss, E.S.
  • Westberry, T.K.
  • Graff, J.R.
  • Halsey, K.H.
  • Milligan, A.J.
  • Siegel, D.A.
  • Brown, M.B.

    Global satellite observations document expansions of the low-chlorophyll central ocean gyres and an overall inverse relationship between anomalies in sea surface temperature and phytoplankton chlorophyll concentrations. These findings can provide an invaluable glimpse into potential future ocean changes, but only if the story they tell is accurately interpreted. Chlorophyll is not simply a measure of phytoplankton biomass, but also registers changes in intracellular pigmentation arising from light-driven (photoacclimation) and nutrient-driven physiological responses. Here, we show that the photoacclimation response is an important component of temporal chlorophyll variability across the global ocean. This attribution implies that contemporary relationships between chlorophyll changes and ocean warming are not indicative of proportional changes in productivity, as light-driven decreases in chlorophyll can be associated with constant or even increased photosynthesis. Extension of these results to future change, however, requires further evaluation of how the multifaceted stressors of a warmer, higher-CO2 world will impact plankton communities.

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