Mechanisms of; northern ; North; Atlantic biomass ; variability Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. In the North Atlantic Ocean north of 40° N, intense biological productivity occurs to form the base of a highly productive marine food web. SeaWiFS satellite observations indicate trends of biomass in this region over 1998–2007. Significant biomass increases occur in the northwest subpolar gyre and there are simultaneous significant declines to the east of 30–35° W. In this study, we use a regional biogeochemical model of the North Atlantic that captures the observed trends to determine their mechanistic drivers. Biomass increases in the northwest are due to a weakening of the subpolar gyre and associated shoaling of mixed layers that relieves light limitation. Biomass declines to the east of 30–35° W are due to reduced horizontal convergence of phosphate. This reduced convergence is attributable to declines in vertical phosphate supply in the regions of deepest winter mixing that lie to the west of 30–35° W. Over the full timeframe of the model experiment, 1949–2009, variability of both horizontal and vertical phosphate supply drive variability in biomass on the northeastern flank of the subtropical gyre. In the northeast subpolar gyre horizontal fluxes drive biomass variability for both timeframes. Though physically-driven changes in nutrient supply or light availability are the ultimate drivers of biomass changes, clear mechanistic links between biomass and standard physical variables or climate indices remain largely elusive.;

publication date

  • February 20, 2018

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • November 14, 2020 7:27 AM

Full Author List

  • McKinley GA; Ritzer AL; Lovenduski NS

author count

  • 3

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