Biomass changes and trophic amplification of plankton in a warmer ocean

Guillem Chust, Julian Icarus Allen, Laurent Bopp, Corinna Schrum, Jason T. Holt, Kostas P. Tsiaras, Marco Zavatarelli, Marina Chifflet, Heather Cannaby, Isabelle C. Dadou, Ute Daewel, Sarah L. Wakelin, Eric Machú, Dhanya Pushpadas, Momme Butenschön, Yuri Artioli, George Petihakis, Chris J M Smith, Véronique C. Garçon, Katerina GoubanovaBriac Le Vu, Bettina A. Fach, Baris Salihoglu, Emanuela Clementi, Xabier Irigoien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


Ocean warming can modify the ecophysiology and distribution of marine organisms, and relationships between species, with nonlinear interactions between ecosystem components potentially resulting in trophic amplification. Trophic amplification (or attenuation) describe the propagation of a hydroclimatic signal up the food web, causing magnification (or depression) of biomass values along one or more trophic pathways. We have employed 3-D coupled physical-biogeochemical models to explore ecosystem responses to climate change with a focus on trophic amplification. The response of phytoplankton and zooplankton to global climate-change projections, carried out with the IPSL Earth System Model by the end of the century, is analysed at global and regional basis, including European seas (NE Atlantic, Barents Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Bay of Biscay, Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea) and the Eastern Boundary Upwelling System (Benguela). Results indicate that globally and in Atlantic Margin and North Sea, increased ocean stratification causes primary production and zooplankton biomass to decrease in response to a warming climate, whilst in the Barents, Baltic and Black Seas, primary production and zooplankton biomass increase. Projected warming characterized by an increase in sea surface temperature of 2.29 ± 0.05 °C leads to a reduction in zooplankton and phytoplankton biomasses of 11% and 6%, respectively. This suggests negative amplification of climate driven modifications of trophic level biomass through bottom-up control, leading to a reduced capacity of oceans to regulate climate through the biological carbon pump. Simulations suggest negative amplification is the dominant response across 47% of the ocean surface and prevails in the tropical oceans; whilst positive trophic amplification prevails in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. Trophic attenuation is projected in temperate seas. Uncertainties in ocean plankton projections, associated to the use of single global and regional models, imply the need for caution when extending these considerations into higher trophic levels. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2124-2139
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 7 2014

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by the European Commission (Contract no. 212085, MEECE: Marine Ecosystem Evolution in a Changing Environment, and Contract no. 264933, EURO-BASIN: European Union Basin-scale Analysis, Synthesis and Integration). We also thank the three anonymous reviewers for their careful assessment of our manuscript. This is contribution 665 from AZTI-Tecnalia Marine Research Division.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • General Environmental Science
  • Environmental Chemistry


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