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Interdecadal variations of plankton biomass and physical environment in the North Pacific

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In the central and western subarctic Pacific, zooplankton biomass and chlorophyll concentrations during the mid 1960s to mid 1970s were a few times higher than in the preceding and following decades, corresponding to higher values of the atmospheric Northern Hemisphere Zonal Index (NHZI). In the Alaskan Gyre, however, it was reported that biomass of zooplankton and nekton doubled after the atmospheric regime shift in the mid 1970s. In the subtropical North Pacific, chlorophyll a concentration decreased drastically after 1980, although a decrease of zooplankton biomass was clearly seen only in the northern part of the subtropical gyre. Chlorophyll concentration in the central subarctic Pacific and zooplankton biomass in the Oyashio have been decreasing since the early 1980s. Additionally, chlorophyll concentration in the western subarctic Pacific and eastern Bering Sea, and zooplankton biomass in the central subarctic Pacific and eastern Bering Sea have also been decreasing since the late 1980s. In these regime-shift situations, there is a general tendency for intensification of wind speed or de-stratification to cause plankton biomass to decrease in regions where the upper mixed layer is deep, such as the western subarctic and north-western subtropical water, whereas in relatively stratified areas, such as in the eastern subarctic and south-western subtropical water, the effect is an increase of plankton biomass.
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Keywords: North Pacific; global change; plankton biomass; regime shift

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, 1–15–1 Minamidai, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164–8639, Japan ( 2: National Research Institute of Far Sea Fisheries, 5–7–1 Orido, Shimizu-City, Shizuoka 424–8633, Japan (

Publication date: 1998-12-01

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