Regional climate change and harmful algal blooms in the northeast Atlantic
Limnol. Oceanogr., 51(2), 2006, 820-829 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2006.51.2.0820
ABSTRACT: We investigated long-term spatial variability in a number of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in the northeast Atlantic and North Sea using data from the Continuous Plankton Recorder. Over the last four decades, some dinoflagellate taxa showed pronounced variation in the south and east of the North Sea, with the most significant increases being restricted to the adjacent waters off Norway. There was also a general decrease along the eastern coast of the United Kingdom. The most prominent feature in the interannual bloom frequencies over the last four decades was the anomalously high values recorded in the late 1980s in the northern and central North Sea areas. The only mesoscale area in the northeast Atlantic to show a significant increase in bloom formation over the last decade was the Norwegian coastal region. The changing spatial patterns of HAB taxa and the frequency of bloom formation are discussed in relation to regional climate change, in particular, changes in temperature, salinity, and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Areas highly vulnerable to the effects of regional climate change on HABs are Norwegian coastal waters and the Skagerrak. Other vulnerable areas include Danish coastal waters, and to a lesser extent, the German and Dutch Bight and the northern Irish Sea. Quite apart from eutrophication, our results give a preview of what might happen to certain HAB genera under changing climatic conditions in temperate environments and their responses to variability of climate oscillations such as the NAO.