Decadal variability in chlorophyll and primary production off NW Spain

Antonio Bode*, Ricardo Anadón, Xosé Anxelu G. Morán, Enrique Nogueira, Eva Teira, Manuel Varela

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Long-term variability of phytoplankton biomass (chlorophyll a) and primary production (carbon fixation) in relation to changes in climatic and oceanographic factors was analysed for oceanic and shelf waters of the north and northwest Iberian Peninsula. Changes related to stratification in the water column and upwelling intensity were specifically addressed. The time series include measurements of primary production and biomass over 19 yr. Seasonally, the main mode of temporal variability of the series is the occurrence of phytoplankton blooms during the winter-spring and summer- autumn transition periods. On the northwestern coast (Galicia), the blooms are more frequent and attain higher biomass and production values than on the northern coast (Mar Cantábrico) due to the longer duration and higher intensity of upwelling in the former region. Even for the longest series there is no significant long-term trend in biomass, but primary production increased in Galicia and decreased in the Mar Cantábrico at nearly equivalent rates when considering monthly series. The lagged relationships between external factors and phytoplankton biomass and production suggest non-linear interactions between phytoplankton and climate. Neither the increase in surface stratification nor the decrease in upwelling intensity has negatively affected primary production in this region following consistent and systematic patterns. Changes in the amount and proportions of nutrients during winter water-mass formation, and an increased use of nutrients remineralised in situ, are proposed as the main causes of decadal variability in primary production in this region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-305
Number of pages13
JournalClimate Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Aug 30 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • NE Atlantic
  • Nutrients
  • Primary production
  • Remineralisation
  • Upwelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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