Variability in the mechanisms controlling Southern Ocean phytoplankton bloom phenology in an ocean model and satellite observations
Long, Matthew C.
Kavanaugh, Maria T.
Doney, Scott C.
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KeywordSouthern Ocean; Phytoplankton; Bloom phenology; Top-down controls; Bottom-up controls; Modeling
A coupled global numerical simulation (conducted with the Community Earth System Model) is used in conjunction with satellite remote sensing observations to examine the role of top-down (grazing pressure) and bottom-up (light, nutrients) controls on marine phytoplankton bloom dynamics in the Southern Ocean. Phytoplankton seasonal phenology is evaluated in the context of the recently proposed “disturbance-recovery” hypothesis relative to more traditional, exclusively “bottom-up” frameworks. All blooms occur when phytoplankton division rates exceed loss rates to permit sustained net population growth; however, the nature of this decoupling period varies regionally in Community Earth System Model. Regional case studies illustrate how unique pathways allow blooms to emerge despite very poor division rates or very strong grazing rates. In the Subantarctic, southeast Pacific small spring blooms initiate early cooccurring with deep mixing and low division rates, consistent with the disturbance-recovery hypothesis. Similar systematics are present in the Subantarctic, southwest Atlantic during the spring but are eclipsed by a subsequent, larger summer bloom that is coincident with shallow mixing and the annual maximum in division rates, consistent with a bottom-up, light limited framework. In the model simulation, increased iron stress prevents a similar summer bloom in the southeast Pacific. In the simulated Antarctic zone (70°S–65°S) seasonal sea ice acts as a dominant phytoplankton-zooplankton decoupling agent, triggering a delayed but substantial bloom as ice recedes. Satellite ocean color remote sensing and ocean physical reanalysis products do not precisely match model-predicted phenology, but observed patterns do indicate regional variability in mechanism across the Atlantic and Pacific.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2017. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles 31 (2017): 922–940, doi:10.1002/2016GB005615.
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