Multiyear predictability of tropical marine productivity

Seferian, Roland; Bopp, Laurent; Gehlen, Marion; Swingedouw, Didier; Mignot, Juliette; Guilyardi, Eric; Servonnat, Jérôme (2014). Multiyear predictability of tropical marine productivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS, 111(32), pp. 11646-11651. National Academy of Sciences NAS 10.1073/pnas.1315855111

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With the emergence of decadal predictability simulations, research toward forecasting variations of the climate system now covers a large range of timescales. However, assessment of the capacity to predict natural variations of relevant biogeochemical variables like carbon fluxes, pH, or marine primary productivity remains unexplored. Among these, the net primary productivity (NPP) is of particular relevance in a forecasting perspective. Indeed, in regions like the tropical Pacific (30°N–30°S), NPP exhibits natural fluctuations at interannual to decadal timescales that have large impacts on marine ecosystems and fisheries. Here, we investigate predictions of NPP variations over the last decades (i.e., from 1997 to 2011) with an Earth system model within the tropical Pacific. Results suggest a predictive skill for NPP of 3 y, which is higher than that of sea surface temperature (1 y). We attribute the higher predictability of NPP to the poleward advection of nutrient anomalies (nitrate and iron), which sustain fluctuations in phytoplankton productivity over several years. These results open previously unidentified perspectives to the development of science-based management approaches to marine resources relying on integrated physical-biogeochemical forecasting systems.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Mignot, Juliette


500 Science > 530 Physics




National Academy of Sciences NAS




Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

12 Dec 2014 10:38

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:38

Publisher DOI:





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