Phytoplankton responses to climate-induced warming and interdecadal oscillation in North-Western Australia

Author Identifier

Pere Masque

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology


John Wiley and Sons Inc.


School of Science / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research




Generalitat de Catalunya,

Australian Research Council,

Western Australian Marine Science Institution, WAMSI

Australian Institute of Marine Science, AIMS: MDM2015-0552

Grant Number

ARC Number : LE170100219


Yuan, Z., Liu, D., Masque, P., Zhao, M., Song, X., & Keesing, J. K. (2020). Phytoplankton responses to climate‐induced warming and inter‐decadal oscillation in north‐western Australia. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 35(3), Article e2019PA003712.


Growing evidence has suggested that ocean warming could cause a decline in marine phytoplankton productivity. However, studies in tropical waters have discovered that evolutionary adaptation of local species to warming and positive response to increasing rainfall could avoid the sharp decline in productivity. Here, the decadal trends of phytoplankton biomass, reconstructed using the biomarkers of brassicasterol (diatoms) and dinosterol (dinoflagellates), showed a 1.5–3 times increase since the 1950s along a large section of the Kimberley coast, north-western Australia. Principal component analysis found that 56% of the phytoplankton variance was linked with climate change-induced increases in sea surface temperature and rainfall associated with increased tropical cyclones, which can enhance nutrient supply favoring phytoplankton growth and production; 20.4% of the phytoplankton variance tended to be related to the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation through a mechanism of ocean-coast interaction. We empirically predict that the negative impact of rising temperatures on phytoplankton in north-western Australia could be buffered by the increasing tropical cyclones and the coming warm phase of Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. © 2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.



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