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TROPHYZ Report Summary

Project ID: 631466
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: United Kingdom

Periodic Report Summary 1 - TROPHYZ (Drivers of trends and regime shifts in ocean phytoplankton and zooplankton)

Over long-timescales, the Earth’s climate system and ecosystem often exhibit non-linear behaviour and abrupt changes, the latter especially challenging societies ability to adapt. In marine ecosystems, regime shifts can be induced by environmental forcing and variability or can also be generated randomly from within the system, with implications on their predictability. Marine regime shifts may be detectable earlier in plankton than in upper trophic levels.

TROPHYZ (Drivers of trends and regime shifts in ocean phytoplankton and zooplankton) aims to investigate the presence of trends, abrupt changes and thresholds in ocean phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance and identify the mechanisms responsible for those changes, in an integrative manner. More specifically, the key objectives are: 1) to identify which marine ecosystems are exhibiting abrupt changes in phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance, 2) to identify the mechanisms responsible for the abrupt changes and 3) to evaluate our potential to predict abrupt changes in phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance.

In light of objective 1, new statistical development enabled distinguishing marine ecosystem abrupt changes from long-term changes and environmental noise. A newly developed state-of-the-art change-point methodology was used to investigate two key marine ecosystems that have been suggested to undergo regime shifts in the past: North Pacific and North Atlantic. With regards to objective 2, the mechanisms responsible for the late 1970s regime shift in the North Pacific were connected to extreme atmospheric events and sustained changes in the ocean-atmosphere coupling. As for the North Atlantic, we find the strong presence of “memory” in the system suggesting potential for short-term predictability, which will be exploited to achieve objective 3. In the next two years, the group will continue delivering on objectives 2 and 3, with the key aim to produce top quality research output.

The financial resources provided by the grant has boosted establishment of a productive research group, which counts three PhD students who are primarily supervised by the PI and two PhD students in co-supervision. The project is at the end of year two and it has already delivered one published paper, four manuscripts currently under review/revision and a software. The long-term integration goal of the project was achieved in 2015, as the PI has been confirmed employment on a permanent basis.

Reported by

United Kingdom


Life Sciences
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