Publications

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2019
Taboada, FG, Barton AD, Stock CA, Dunne J, John JG.  2019.  Seasonal to interannual predictability of oceanic net primary production inferred from satellite observations. Progress in Oceanography. 170:28-39.   10.1016/j.pocean.2018.10.010   AbstractWebsite

Seasonal to interannual predictions of ecosystem dynamics have the potential to improve the management of living marine resources. Prediction of oceanic net primary production (NPP), the foundation of marine food webs and the biological carbon pump, is particularly promising, with recent analysis suggesting that ecosystem feedback processes may lead to higher predictability of NPP at interannual scales than for physical variables like sea surface temperature (SST). Here, we assessed the potential predictability of oceanic NPP and SST across seasonal to interannual lead times using reduced dimension, linear dynamical spatio-temporal models (rDSTM). This approach combines empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis with vector autoregressive (VAR) modeling to simplify the analysis of spatio-temporal data. The rDSTMs were fitted to monthly NPP and SST anomalies derived from 20 years of remote sensing data (1997-2017), considering two alternative algorithms commonly used to estimate NPP (VGPM and Eppley-VGPM) and optimally analyzed SST fields (AVHRR OISST). The local decay of anomalies provided high predictability up to three months, and subsequent interactions with remote forcing significantly extended predictability beyond the initial anomaly decay. Indeed, interactions among spatial modes associated with the propagation of major climate modes, particularly the El Nifio-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), extended the predictability horizon above one year in some regions. Patterns of enhanced NPP predictability matched the location of oligotrophic gyres and transition regions between ocean biomes, where fluctuations in biome boundaries generate large biogeochemical perturbations that leave lasting imprints on NPP. In these areas, the predictability horizon for NPP was longer than for SST, although SST was more predictable over large areas of the equatorial and northeast Pacific. Our results support the potential for extending seasonal to interannual physical climate predictions to predict ocean productivity.

2016
Barton, AD, Irwin AJ, Finkel ZV, Stock CA.  2016.  Anthropogenic climate change drives shift and shuffle in North Atlantic phytoplankton communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113:2964-2969.   10.1073/pnas.1519080113   AbstractWebsite

Anthropogenic climate change has shifted the biogeography and phenology of many terrestrial and marine species. Marine phytoplankton communities appear sensitive to climate change, yet understanding of how individual species may respond to anthropogenic climate change remains limited. Here, using historical environmental and phytoplankton observations, we characterize the realized ecological niches for 87 North Atlantic diatom and dinoflagellate taxa and project changes in species biogeography between mean historical (1951-2000) and future (2051-2100) ocean conditions. We find that the central positions of the core range of 74% of taxa shift poleward at a median rate of 12.9 kmper decade (km.dec(-1)), and 90% of taxa shift eastward at a median rate of 42.7 km.dec(-1). The poleward shift is faster than previously reported for marine taxa, and the predominance of longitudinal shifts is driven by dynamic changes in multiple environmental drivers, rather than a strictly poleward, temperature-driven redistribution of ocean habitats. A century of climate change significantly shuffles community composition by a basin-wide median value of 16%, compared with seasonal variations of 46%. The North Atlantic phytoplankton community appears poised for marked shift and shuffle, which may have broad effects on food webs and biogeochemical cycles.

2015
Dave, AC, Barton AD, Lozier MS, McKinley GA.  2015.  What drives seasonal change in oligotrophic area in the subtropical North Atlantic? Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 120:3958-3969.   10.1002/2015JC010787   AbstractWebsite

The oligotrophic regions of the subtropical gyres cover a significant portion of the global ocean, and exhibit considerable but poorly understood intraseasonal, interannual, and longer-term variations in spatial extent. Here using historical observations of surface ocean nitrate, wind, and currents, we have investigated how horizontal and vertical supplies of nitrate control seasonal changes in the size and shape of oligotrophic regions of the subtropical North Atlantic. In general, the oligotrophic region of the subtropical North Atlantic is associated with the region of weak vertical supply of nitrate. Though the total vertical supply of nitrate here is generally greater than the total horizontal supply, we find that seasonal expansion and contraction of the oligotrophic region is consistent with changes in horizontal supply of nitrate. In this dynamic periphery of the subtropical gyre, the seasonal variations in chlorophyll are linked to variations in horizontal nitrate supply that facilitate changes in intracellular pigment concentrations, and to a lesser extent, phytoplankton biomass. Our results suggest that horizontal transports of nutrient are crucial in setting seasonal cycles of chlorophyll in large expanses of the subtropical North Atlantic, and may play a key and underappreciated role in regulating interannual variations in these globally important marine ecosystems.