Inter-decadal variability of phytoplankton biomass along the coastalWest Antarctic Peninsula

Hyewon Kim, Hugh W. Ducklow, Doris Abele, Eduardo M.Ruiz Barlett, Anita G.J. Buma, Michael P. Meredith, Patrick D. Rozema, Oscar M. Schofield, Hugh J. Venables, Irene R. Schloss

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42 Scopus citations


The West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) is a climatically sensitive region where periods of strong warming have caused significant changes in the marine ecosystem and food-web processes. Tight coupling between phytoplankton and higher trophic levels implies that the coastal WAP is a bottom-up controlled system, where changes in phytoplankton dynamics may largely impact other food-web components. Here, we analysed the inter-decadal time series of year-round chlorophyll-a (Chl) collected from three stations along the coastal WAP: Carlini Station at Potter Cove (PC) on King George Island, Palmer Station on Anvers Island and Rothera Station on Adelaide Island. There were trends towards increased phytoplankton biomass at Carlini Station (PC) and Palmer Station, while phytoplankton biomass declined significantly at Rothera Station over the studied period. The impacts of two relevant climate modes to the WAP, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Southern Annular Mode, on winter and spring phytoplankton biomass appear to be different among the three sampling stations, suggesting an important role of local-scale forcing than large-scale forcing on phytoplankton dynamics at each station. The inter-annual variability of seasonal bloom progression derived from considering all three stations together captured ecologically meaningful, seasonally co-occurring bloom patterns which were primarily constrained by water-column stability strength. Our findings highlight a coupled link between phytoplankton and physical and climate dynamics along the coastal WAP, which may improve our understanding of overall WAP food-web responses to climate change and variability. This article is part of the theme issue 'The marine system of the West Antarctic Peninsula: status and strategy for progress in a region of rapid change'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20170174
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2122
StatePublished - Jun 28 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


  • Chlorophyll-a
  • El Niño-Southern Oscillation
  • Phytoplankton
  • Southern Annular Mode
  • West Antarctic Peninsula


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