Miller, A. J., M. A. Alexander, G. J. Boer, F. Chai, K. Denman, D. J. Erickson, R. Frouin, A. J. Gabric, E. A. Laws, M. R. Lewis, Z. Liu, R. Murtugudde, S. Nakamoto, D. J. Neilson, J. R. Norris, J. C. Ohlmann, R. I. Perry, N. Schneider, K. M. Shell, and A. Timmermann, 2003:

Potential feedbacks between Pacific Ocean ecosystems and interdecadal climate variations

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society,84, 617-633.

Abstract. The mechanisms responsible for interdecadal climate variations over the Pacific Ocean are unclear. Many types of feedbacks in the physical ocean-atmosphere system have been proposed to explain various aspects of these climate variations. The potential influence of the oceanic ecosystem on these climate variations has yet to be considered. Mechanisms are described by which the oceanic biological response to Pacific interdecadal climate forcing may organize a potentially significant feedback to the physical climate system. The oceanic biological processes considered in this paper appear to be able to sensitize the coupled ocean-atmosphere climate system through changes in upper-ocean absorption of radiation due to phytoplankton and to changes in dimethylsulfide (DMS) fluxes to atmospheric cloud systems. The oceanic biology does not, however, appear to be able to introduce an adequately long delay in the system to set a preferred timescale in interdecadal climate variations. Modeling and observational strategies are outlined for future research that is needed to resolve the many issues of biological-physical feedbacks in interdecadal climate variations. Much of the discussion applies to shorter (seasonal, interannual) and longer (centennial) period climate variations as well.

Capsule Summary.
Oceanic ecosystems altered by interdecadal climate variability may provide a feedback to the physical climate by phytoplankton affecting heat fluxes into the upper ocean and DMS fluxes into the atmosphere.

Reprint (pdf)

Photos from Workshop