Publications

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2016
Kahru, M, Elmgren R, Savchuk OP.  2016.  Changing seasonality of the Baltic Sea. Biogeosciences. 13:1009-1018.   10.5194/bg-13-1009-2016   AbstractWebsite

Changes in the phenology of physical and ecological variables associated with climate change are likely to have significant effect on many aspects of the Baltic ecosystem. We apply a set of phenological indicators to multiple environmental variables measured by satellite sensors for 17-36 years to detect possible changes in the seasonality in the Baltic Sea environment. We detect significant temporal changes, such as earlier start of the summer season and prolongation of the productive season, in several variables ranging from basic physical drivers to ecological status indicators. While increasing trends in the absolute values of variables like sea-surface temperature (SST), diffuse attenuation of light (Ked490) and satellite-detected chlorophyll concentration (CHL) are detectable, the corresponding changes in their seasonal cycles are more dramatic. For example, the cumulative sum of 30 000 W m(-2) of surface incoming short-wave irradiance (SIS) was reached 23 days earlier in 2014 compared to the beginning of the time series in 1983. The period of the year with SST of at least 17 degrees C has almost doubled (from 29 days in 1982 to 56 days in 2014), and the period with Ked490 over 0.4 m(1) has increased from about 60 days in 1998 to 240 days in 2013 -i.e., quadrupled. The period with satellite-estimated CHL of at least 3 mg m(-3) has doubled from approximately 110 days in 1998 to 220 days in 2013. While the timing of both the phytoplankton spring and summer blooms have advanced, the annual CHL maximum that in the 1980s corresponded to the spring diatom bloom in May has now shifted to the summer cyanobacteria bloom in July.

2014
Neal, BP, Condit C, Liu G, dos Santos S, Kahru M, Mitchell BG, Kline DI.  2014.  When depth is no refuge: cumulative thermal stress increases with depth in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Coral Reefs. 33:193-205.   10.1007/s00338-013-1081-6   AbstractWebsite

Coral reefs are increasingly affected by high-temperature stress events and associated bleaching. Monitoring and predicting these events have largely utilized sea surface temperature data, due to the convenience of using large-scale remotely sensed satellite measurements. However, coral bleaching has been observed to vary in severity throughout the water column, and variations in coral thermal stress across depths have not yet been well investigated. In this study, in situ water temperature data from 1999 to 2011 from three depths were used to calculate thermal stress on a coral reef in Bahia Almirante, Bocas del Toro, Panama, which was compared to satellite surface temperature data and thermal stress calculations for the same area and time period from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Watch Satellite Bleaching Alert system. The results show similar total cumulative annual thermal stress for both the surface and depth-stratified data, but with a striking difference in the distribution of that stress among the depth strata during different high-temperature events, with the greatest thermal stress unusually recorded at the deepest measured depth during the most severe bleaching event in 2005. Temperature records indicate that a strong density-driven temperature inversion may have formed in this location in that year, contributing to the persistence and intensity of bleaching disturbance at depth. These results indicate that depth may not provide a stress refuge from high water temperature events in some situations, and in this case, the water properties at depth appear to have contributed to greater coral bleaching at depth compared to near-surface locations. This case study demonstrates the importance of incorporating depth-stratified temperature monitoring and small-scale oceanographic and hydrologic data for understanding and predicting local reef responses to elevated water temperature events.

Cape, MR, Vernet M, Kahru M, Spreen G.  2014.  Polynya dynamics drive primary production in the Larsen A and B embayments following ice shelf collapse. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 119:572-594.   10.1002/2013jc009441   AbstractWebsite

The climate-driven collapses of the Larsen A and B ice shelves have opened up new regions of the coastal Antarctic to the influence of sea ice resulting in increases in seasonal primary production. In this study, passive microwave remote sensing of sea ice concentration and satellite imagery of ocean color are employed to quantify the magnitude of and variability in open water area and net primary productivity (NPP) in the Larsen embayments between 1997 and 2011. Numerical model output provides context to analyze atmospheric forcing on the coastal ocean. Following ice shelf disintegration the embayments function as coastal, sensible heat polynyas. The Larsen A and B are as productive as other Antarctic shelf regions, with seasonally averaged daily NPP rates reaching 1232 and 1127 mg C m(-2) d(-1) and annual rates reaching 200 and 184 g C m(-2) yr(-1), respectively. A persistent cross-shelf gradient in NPP is present with higher productivity rates offshore, contrasting with patterns observed along the West Antarctic Peninsula. Embayment productivity is intimately tied to sea ice dynamics, with large interannual variability in NPP rates driven by open water area and the timing of embayment opening. Opening of the embayment is linked to periods of positive Southern Annular Mode and stronger westerlies, which lead to the vertical deflection of warm, maritime air over the peninsula and down the leeward side causing increases in surface air temperature and wind velocity. High productivity in these new polynyas is likely to have ramifications for organic matter export and marine ecosystem evolution. Key Points Primary production and sea ice dynamics after ice shelf disintegration Larsen embayments function as productive coastal sensible heat polynyas High sea ice interannual variability affects total production

2012
Kahru, M, Kudela RM, Manzano-Sarabia M, Mitchell BG.  2012.  Trends in the surface chlorophyll of the California Current: Merging data from multiple ocean color satellites. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 77-80:89-98. Abstract

Standard remote sensing reflectance products from four ocean color sensors (OCTS, SeaWiFS, MODISA, MERIS) and over 10,000 in situ measurements of surface chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration in the California Current were used to create empirical algorithms that are consistent with in situ data as well as between individual sensors. Using these algorithms, a merged multi-sensor time series of the surface Chl-a concentration in California Current region was created. The merged Oil-a time series (November 1996-December 2011) show a significant (P < 0.01) increasing trend off central California and significant (P < 0.01) decreasing trends in the central North Pacific gyre and off southern Baja California. Although this 15-year time series is too short to separate interannual and multidecadal cycles from climate trends, both of these trends are consistent with the predicted effects of global warming. The expected increase in vertical stratification of the water column and the resulting decreased vertical flux of nutrients would lead to lower Chl-a in the gyre but the increased upwelling-favorable winds leading to stronger upwelling off central California or the increased nitrate content of the upwelled water would lead to higher Chl-a in the upwelling region. The decreased Chl-a off southern Baja California resembles the effect of a decreased influence of strong El Nino events. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

2011
Kahru, M, Brotas V, Manzano-Sarabia M, Mitchell BG.  2011.  Are phytoplankton blooms occurring earlier in the Arctic? Global Change Biology. 17:1733-1739.   10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02312.x   AbstractWebsite

Time series of satellite-derived surface chlorophyll-a concentration (Chl) in 1997-2009 were used to examine for trends in the timing of the annual phytoplankton bloom maximum. Significant trends towards earlier phytoplankton blooms were detected in about 11% of the area of the Arctic Ocean with valid Chl data, e.g. in the Hudson Bay, Foxe Basin, Baffin Sea, off the coasts of Greenland, in the Kara Sea and around Novaya Zemlya. These areas roughly coincide with areas where ice concentration has decreased in early summer (June), thus making the earlier blooms possible. In the selected areas, the annual phytoplankton bloom maximum has advanced by up to 50 days which may have consequences for the Arctic food chain and carbon cycling. Outside the Arctic, the annual Chl maximum has become earlier in boreal North Pacific but later in the North Atlantic.

2007
Lluch-Cota, SE, Aragon-Noriega EA, Arreguin-Sanchez F, Aurioles-Gamboa D, Bautista-Romero JJ, Brusca RC, Cervantes-Duarte R, Cortes-Altamirano R, Del-Monte-Luna P, Esquivel-Herrera A, Fernandez G, Hendrickx ME, Hernandez-Vazquez S, Herrera-Cervantes H, Kahru M, Lavin M, Lluch-Belda D, Lluch-Cota DB, Lopez-Martinez J, Marinone SG, Nevarez-Martinez MO, Ortega-Garcia S, Palacios-Castro E, Pares-Sierra A, Ponce-Diaz G, Ramirez-Rodriguez M, Salinas-Zavala CA, Schwartzlose RA, Sierra-Beltran AP.  2007.  The Gulf of California: Review of ecosystem status and sustainability challenges. Progress in Oceanography. 73:1-26.   10.1016/j.pocean.2007.01.013   AbstractWebsite

The Gulf of California is unique because of its geographical location and conformation. It hosts diverse ecosystems and important fisheries that support industry and provide livelihood to coastal settlements. It is also the site of interests and problems, and an intense interaction among managers, producers, and conservationists. In this report, we scrutinize the abiotic (hydrography, climate, ocean circulation, and chemistry) and biotic (phyto- and zooplankton, fish, invertebrates, marine mammals, birds, and turtles) components of the marine ecosystem, and some particular aspects of climate variability, endemisms, harmful algal blooms, oxygen minimum layer, and pollution. We also review the current conditions and conflicts around the main fisheries (shrimp, small and large pelagic fishes, squid, artisanal and sportfishing), the most important human activity in the Gulf of California. We cover some aspects of management and conservation of fisheries, especially the claimed overexploitation of fish resources and the ecosystems, and review proposals for creating networks of marine protected areas. We conclude by identifying main needs for information and research, particularly the integration of data bases, the implementation of models and paleoreconstructions, establishment of monitoring programs, and the evaluation of fishing impacts and management actions. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.