Subseasonal (5–130 days) environmental variability can strongly affect plankton dynamics, but is often overlooked in marine ecology studies. We documented the main subseasonal patterns of plankton biomass in the coastal upwelling system off central Chile, the southern part of the Humboldt System. Subseasonal variability was extracted from temporal patterns in satellite data of wind stress, sea surface temperature, and chlorophyll from the period 2003–2011, and from a realistically forced eddy-resolving physical-biochemical model from 2003 to 2008. Although most of the wind variability occurs at submonthly frequencies (< 30 days), we found that the dominant subseasonal pattern of phytoplankton biomass is within the intraseasonal band (30–90 days). The strongest intraseasonal coupling between wind and plankton is in spring-summer, when increased solar radiation enhances the phytoplankton response to upwelling. Biochemical model outputs show intraseasonal shifts in plankton community structure, mainly associated with the large fluctuations in diatom biomass. Diatom biomass peaks near surface during strong upwelling, whereas small phytoplankton biomass peaks at subsurface depths during relaxation or downwelling periods. Strong intraseasonally forced changes in biomass and species composition could strongly impact trophodynamics connections in the ecosystem, including the recruitment of commercially important fish species such as common sardine and anchovy. The wind-driven variability of chlorophyll concentration was connected to mid- and high-latitude atmospheric anomalies, which resemble disturbances with frequencies similar to the tropical Madden-Julian Oscillation.
Gomez, F. A., Spitz, Y. H., Batchelder, H. P., & Correa-Ramirez, M. A. (2017). Intraseasonal patterns in coastal plankton biomass off central Chile derived from satellite observations and a biochemical model. Journal of Marine Systems, 174, 106–118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2017.05.003