Phenology of marine phytoplankton from satellite ocean color measurements



[1] Climate change is expected to affect the timing and magnitude of numerous environmental conditions, including temperature, wind, and precipitation. Amongst other repercussions, such alterations will engender a response in marine ecosystem productivity manifested by changes in the timing and magnitude of phytoplankton biomass and primary productivity. Several investigations have examined the change in magnitude in chlorophyll concentration in relation to changing environmental conditions, but little has been done to examine the change in the timing of the annual cycle of phytoplankton biomass. In order to establish a baseline from which to assess any future changes in the phenology of phytoplankton biomass, we constructed nine-year climatologies of phytoplankton bloom onset, maturity, start of bloom decay, and termination in the central North Atlantic. This was accomplished by extracting annual values of these phenological markers from Generalized Linear Models fit to pentad (five-day) estimates of SeaWiFS chlorophyll concentrations dating from 1998 to 2006. This novel modeling approach, which produced results consistent with known patterns of phytoplankton bloom dynamics in this region, provides a statistically robust approach to detect and account for changes in the annual cycle of phytoplankton biomass.