Causes of simulated long-term changes in phytoplankton biomass in the Baltic proper: a wavelet analysis

Hieronymus, Jenny; Eilola, Kari; Hieronymus, Magnus; Meier, H. E. Markus; Saraiva, Sofia; Karlson, Bengt

The co-variation of key variables with simulated phytoplankton biomass in the Baltic proper has been examined using wavelet analysis and results of a long-term simulation for 1850–2008 with a high-resolution coupled physical–biogeochemical circulation model for the Baltic Sea. By focusing on inter-annual variations, it is possible to track effects acting on decadal timescales such as temperature increase due to climate change as well as changes in nutrient input. The strongest inter-annual coherence indicates that variations in phytoplankton biomass are determined by changes in concentrations of the limiting nutrient. However, after 1950 high nutrient concentrations created a less-nutrient-limited regime, and the coherence was reduced. Furthermore, the inter-annual coherence of mixed-layer nitrate with riverine input of nitrate is much larger than the coherence between mixed-layer phosphate and phosphate loads. This indicates a greater relative importance of the vertical flux of phosphate from the deep layer into the mixed layer. In addition, shifts in nutrient patterns give rise to changes in phytoplankton nutrient limitation. The modelled pattern shifts from purely phosphate limited to a seasonally varying regime. The results further indicate some effect of inter-annual temperature increase on cyanobacteria and flagellates. Changes in mixed-layer depth affect mainly diatoms due to their high sinking velocity, while inter-annual coherence between irradiance and phytoplankton biomass is not found.

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Hieronymus, Jenny / Eilola, Kari / Hieronymus, Magnus / et al: Causes of simulated long-term changes in phytoplankton biomass in the Baltic proper: a wavelet analysis. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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