Abstract:The Southwestern Atlantic Ocean (SWA), is considered one of the most productive areas of the world, with a high abundance of ecologically and economically important fish species. Yet, the biological responses of this complex region to climate variability are still uncertain. Here, using 24 years of satellite-derived Chl-a data, we classified the SWA into 9 spatially coherent regions based on the temporal variability of Chl-a concentration, as revealed by SOM (Self-Organizing Maps) analysis. These biogeographical regions were the basis of a regional trend analysis in phytoplankton biomass, phenological indices, and environmental forcing variations. A general positive trend in phytoplankton concentration was observed, especially in the highly productive areas of the northern shelf-break, where phytoplankton biomass has increased at a rate of up to 0.42 ± 0.04 mg m−3 per decade. Significant positive trends in sea surface temperature were observed in 4 of the 9 regions (0.08–0.26 °C decade−1) and shoaling of the mixing layer depth in 5 of the 9 regions (−1.50 to −3.36 m decade−1). In addition to the generally positive trend in Chl-a, the most conspicuous change in the phytoplankton temporal patterns in the SWA is a delay in the autumn bloom (between 15 ± 3 and 24 ± 6 days decade−1, depending on the region). The observed variations in phytoplankton phenology could be attributed to climate-induced ocean warming and extended stratification period. Our results provided further evidence of the impact of climate change on these highly productive waters.
Abstract:The strong interaction between the Brazil Current and the adjacent shelf is clearly visible in satellite-derived products (sea surface temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll-a concentration). Assessments of circulation features and cross-shelf exchanges from these products are, however, limited to the surface layer. Here we analyze the regional circulation and dynamics using the results of a suite of process-oriented, high-resolution numerical experiments. Passive tracers and Lagrangian floats characterize the exchanges between the shelf and the open ocean, identifying regions of high variability, and assessing the contribution of small-scale eddies to the cross-shelf mass exchanges. We estimate that 0.2-0.4Sv of the shelf transport variability between 34°S and 25°S comes from ocean internal variability which represents ~50%-70% of the total variability. Between 25°S and 21°S, internal ocean variability represents more than 90% of the shelf transport variability. We find that generation of cyclonic eddies is more frequent (>15% of the time) at the shelfbreak bights. The core of these eddies contains fresher, colder, and more nutrient-rich shelf waters. Maps of satellite chlorophyll-a concentration suggest that the horizontal and vertical exchanges of mass associated with these eddies are a critical element of the primary production cycle.
Abstract:The study of marine heat waves as extreme temperature events has a wide range of applications, from a gauge for ecological and socioeconomic impact to a climate change indicator. Various definitions of marine heat waves as extreme sea temperature events exist to account for its broad applicability, with statistical definitions based on percentile based thresholds being widespread in its use. Using satellite and model data of the Mediterranean Sea, we analyze the statistical implications of choosing baseline climatological periods for threshold delineation, which are either fixed in the past or shifted in time. We show that in the context of a warming Mediterranean Sea, using a fixed baseline leads to a saturation of marine heat wave days that compromises the significance of this marine indicator, with 90% of climate models analyzed predicting an average above 189 marine heat wave days per year by 2050 even for the lowest emission scenario. We argue that only with a moving baseline, can we reach a definition for marine heat waves which yield consistently rare extreme events.