Continuous Plankton Records: Seasonal cycles of phytoplankton and copepods in the North Atlantic ocean and the North Sea

  • Colebrook J
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Data from the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey of the north Atlantic
Ocean and the North Sea were used to study geographical variations
in the amplitude, duration and timing of the seasonal cycles of total
phytoplankton and total copepods. It is shown that the distribution
of overwintering stocks influences the distributions throughout the
year. There is a relationship between the timing of the spring increase
of phytoplankton and the amplitude of the seasonal variation in sea
surface temperature. In the open ocean, the timing of the spring
increase of phytoplankton corresponds with the spring warming of
the surface waters. In the North Sea the spring increase occurs earlier,
associated, perhaps, with transient periods of vertical stability,
resulting in a relatively slower rate of increase. It is suggested
that in the open ocean the higher rate of increase is under-exploited
by copepods due to low overwintering stocks and longer generation
times. Exceptionally early spring increases of phytoplankton off
the west coast of Greenland and over the Norwegian shelf are probably
associated with permanent haloclines. A high and late autumn peak
of phytoplankton off the coast of Portugal may be associated with
coastal upwelling.

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  • J. M. Colebrook

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