Non-linearities, regime shifts and recovery: The recent influence of climate on Black Sea chlorophyll
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The Black Sea ecosystem experienced severe eutrophication-related degradation during the 1970s and 1980s. However, in recent years the Black Sea has shown some signs of recovery which are often attributed to a reduction in nutrient loading. Here, SeaWiFS chlorophyll a (chl a), a proxy for phytoplankton biomass, is used to investigate spatio-temporal patterns in Black Sea phytoplankton dynamics and to explore the potential role of climate in the Black Sea's recovery. Maps of chl a anomalies, calculated relative to the 8 year mean, emphasize spatial and temporal variability of phytoplankton biomass in the Black Sea, particularly between the riverine-influenced Northwest Shelf and the open Black Sea. Evolution of phytoplankton biomass has shown significant spatial variability of persistence of optimal bloom conditions between three major regions of the Black Sea. With the exception of 2001, chl a has generally decreased during our 8 year time-series. However, the winter of 2000-2001 was anomalously warm with low wind stress, resulting in reduced vertical mixing of the water column and retention of nutrients in the photic zone. These conditions were associated with anomalously high levels of chl a throughout much of the open Black Sea during the following spring and summer. The unusual climatic conditions occurring in 2001 may have triggered a shift in the Black Sea's chl a regime. The long-term significance of this recent shift is still uncertain but illustrates a non-linear response to climate forcing that makes future ecosystem changes in the pelagic Black Sea ecosystem difficult to predict. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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