Wintertime marine extreme temperature events modulate phytoplankton blooms in the North Pacific through subtropical mode water

Yong Jin Tak, Hajoon Song, Jong Yeon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marine extreme temperature events (METs), including marine heatwaves (MHWs) and cold spells, have recently gained much attention owing to their vital influence on the marine ecosystem and social economy. Since METs can alter the upper ocean stratification and wintertime convective mixing in the northwestern North Pacific subtropical gyre (NPSG), their activities may modulate phytoplankton blooms by regulating entrainment of the subtropical mode water (STMW) with high NO 3 − . Furthermore, because STMW formed in the previous winter reemerges east of its formation site in the following winter, the METs activities imprinted in STMW affect phytoplankton blooms remote from its formation site. Here, we examined the relationship between the MET activities, STMW volume, and phytoplankton blooms using satellite observations and a data-assimilative coupled physical-biogeochemical model dataset. MET activities appearing in the STMW formation region during winter regulate the formation of STMW and the supply of NO 3 − from the subsurface, with the latter controlling the spring/autumn blooms in that region under NO 3 − -limited conditions. Subsequently, this water mass is transported eastward in the subsurface within the northern flank of the NPSG before reemerging east of the STMW formation site the following spring. This process results in a negative lag-correlation between MET activities and surface chlorophyll in the reemergence region; for example, MHWs in winter at the STMW formation site tend to lower the surface chlorophyll concentration one year later in the reemergence region. Our study suggests that the oceanic processes allow one year of predictability of the marine ecosystems by monitoring METs in the STMW formation site.

Original languageEnglish
Article number094040
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for constructive reviews. This work was supported by National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant (NRF-2022R1A2C1009792).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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