Advances in Marine Ecosystem Dynamics from Us Globec: The Horizontal-Advection Bottom-up Forcing Paradigm

DiLorenzo, E.; Mountain, D.; Batchelder, H.; Bond, N.; Hofmann, E.

Oceanography 26(4): 22-33


ISSN/ISBN: 1042-8275
DOI: 10.5670/oceanog.2013.73
Accession: 068510234

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A primary focus of the Us Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) program was to identify the mechanisms of ecosystem response to large-scale climate forcing under the assumption that bottom-up forcing controls a large fraction of marine ecosystem variability. At the beginning of GLOBEC, the prevailing bottom-up forcing hypothesis was that climate-induced changes in vertical transport modulated nutrient supply and surface primary productivity, which in turn affected the lower trophic levels (e. g., zooplankton) and higher trophic levels (e. g., fish) through the trophic cascade. Although upwelling dynamics were confirmed to be an important driver of ecosystem variability in Globec studies, the use of eddy-resolving regional-scale ocean circulation models combined with field observations revealed that horizontal advection is an equally important driver of marine ecosystem variability. Through a synthesis of studies from the four US Globec regions (Gulf of Alaska, Northern California Current, Northwest Atlantic, and Southern Ocean), a new horizontal-advection bottom-up forcing paradigm emerges in which large-scale climate forcing drives regional changes in alongshore and cross-shelf ocean transport that directly impact ecosystem functions (e. g., productivity, species composition, spatial connectivity). The horizontal advection bottom-up forcing paradigm expands the mechanistic pathways through which climate variability and climate change impact the marine ecosystem. In particular, these results highlight the need for future studies to resolve and understand the role of mesoscale and submesoscale transport processes and their relationship to climate.