Marine Ecosystem Response to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

Edwards, Martin; Beaugrand, Gregory; Helaouët, Pierre; Alheit, Jürgen; Coombs, Stephen
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Against the backdrop of warming of the Northern Hemisphere it has recently been acknowledged that North Atlantic temperature changes undergo considerable variability over multidecadal periods. The leading component of natural low-frequency temperature variability has been termed the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Presently, correlative studies on the biological impact of the AMO on marine ecosystems over the duration of a whole AMO cycle (∼60 years) is largely unknown due to the rarity of continuously sustained biological observations at the same time period. To test whether there is multidecadal cyclic behaviour in biological time-series in the North Atlantic we used one of the world's longest continuously sustained marine biological time-series in oceanic waters, long-term fisheries data and historical records over the last century and beyond. Our findings suggest that the AMO is far from a trivial presence against the backdrop of continued temperature warming in the North Atlantic and accounts for the second most important macro-trend in North Atlantic plankton records; responsible for habitat switching (abrupt ecosystem/regime shifts) over multidecadal scales and influences the fortunes of various fisheries over many centuries.


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