Lead Author: 

Gustaaf Hallegraeff 1

Co Authors: John Beardall 2, Steve Brett 3, Martina Doblin 4, Peter Thompson 5

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Professor Gustaaf Hallegraeff - Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies - University of Tasmania

Author: Marine Climate Change 2012
| Time: 6.95 min

What is happening?

The red-tide dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans has expanded its range into southern Tasmanian waters and beyond since 1994, associated with warming water and enhanced transport by the East Australian current.

What is expected?

Changes in timing of seasonal phytoplankton blooms may impact marine food webs.

What we are doing about it?

Establishment of IMOS National Reference Stations and AusCPR (Australian Continuous Plankton Recorder) tows are enhancing Australia-wide phytoplankton and biogeochemical data collections for monitoring responses.


Prediction of the impact of global climate change on marine phytoplankton is fraught with uncertainties. A range of environmental changes will influence phytoplankton, including warming, enhanced stratification, alteration of ocean currents, intensification or weakening of local nutrient upwelling, heavy precipitation, and storm events causing changes in land runoff and micronutrient availability. Further, elevated CO2 could directly reduce calcification through ocean acidification, but also stimulate photosynthesis or other biogeochemical processes such as N-fixation. Phytoplankton responses are likely to be species- or even strain-specific. Complex factor interactions exist and simulated ecophysiological laboratory experiments rarely allow for sufficient acclimation or take into account physiological plasticity and genetic strain diversity. In the absence of multi-decadal Australian datasets to assess directly impacts of climate change, we must use appropriate datasets from other locations, look to the geological record for past responses to climate, and examine the response of phytoplankton to climate forcing over shorter time scales (e.g. El Niño-Southern Oscillation). Given documented changes in Australia and other parts of the world, we can expect: (1) range expansion of warm-water species at the expense of cold-water species, which are driven polewards; (2) changes in the abundance and seasonal window of growth of selected phytoplankton species; (3) earlier timing of peak production of phytoplankton, especially in temperate regions; (4) Knock-on effects for marine food webs, notably when individual zooplankton and fish grazers are differentially impacted (“match-mismatch”) by climate change. Some harmful algal bloom phenomena (e.g. toxic dinoflagellates benefitting from land runoff and/or water column stratification, tropical benthic dinoflagellates responding to warmer water temperatures and coral reef disturbance) may become worse, while others may diminish in areas currently impacted. Greatest problems for human society will be caused by being unprepared for significant range expansions or the increase of algal biotoxin problems in currently poorly monitored areas. We thus require increased vigilance in seafood biotoxin and algal monitoring programmes and the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) are contributing significantly to these efforts. A combination of laboratory and field approaches over multiple spatial and temporal scales is necessary to better predict climate impacts on phytoplankton.

Citation: Hallegraeff G. et al. (2012) Phytoplankton. In A Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Report Card for Australia 2012 (Eds. E.S. Poloczanska, A.J. Hobday and A.J. Richardson). Retrieved from www.oceanclimatechange.org.au [Date]

Contact Details: 
1 Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart, TAS, Australia
2 School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia
3 Microalgal Services, 308 Tucker Road, Ormond VIC 3204, Australia
4 Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, Faculty of Science, University of Technology, Sydney NSW 2065 Australia
5 Department of Water, 7 Ellam St ,Victoria Park , WA, 6100, Australia
6 Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Kingston, TAS 7050, Australia
7 CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research, PO Box 1538, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia

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John Beardall

John beardall

John Beardall was originally trained as a microbiologist and then completed a PhD, on the physiology and biochemistry of phytoplankton...
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Gustaaf Hallegraeff

Gustaaf phytoplankton

Professor Gustaaf Hallegraeff was born in the Netherlands and educated at the University of Amsterdam, before joining the CSIRO Marine Laboratories...
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Martina Doblin

Martina doblin

Dr Martina Doblin graduated from the University of Tasmania and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Old Dominion University, USA before becoming a...
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Steve Brett

Steve brett

Dr Steve Brett, Director of Microalgal Services, is involved in numerous projects on phytoplankton from Australian coastal waters and has a special...
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Peter  Thompson


Dr Peter Thompson leads a small team investigating phytoplankton and nutrient dynamics. He completed a BSc, Masters and received his PhD in...
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Scientific Review:

Observed Impacts:

Unfortunately few long-term Australian phytoplankton records exist at any single locality, where ideally we need several decades of data to detect and understand long-term trends. The only available Australian phytoplankton composition data relate to the New South Wales Port Hacking station sampled intermittently since the 1930s, the Tasmanian Maria Island station (monthly hydrology since 1944), the Western Australian Rottnest Island station (hydrology since 1951) and Australian shellfish quality assurance programs in operation in Tas, Vic, SA, WA, NSW, Qld since the 1990s. Satellite-derived ocean colour provides general information about phytoplankton biomass over large spatial scales (minimum 1 km x 1 km), but is only readily available from 1997–2010 (SeaWIFS) or from 2002 to the present (MODIS-Aqua). However, we can learn important lessons from the dinoflagellate cyst fossil record that provides an indication of past responses to climate change (McMinn 1988), from the few long-term phytoplankton data sets available in other locations such as the North Atlantic Continuous Plankton Recorder surveys (Hays et al. 2005), and from short-term phytoplankton community responses to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) episodes.

Range expansions

For many phytoplankton species, significant bloom episodes can serve as stepping stones towards range expansions via natural current systems, sometimes facilitated by local climate events. Blooms provide a large inoculum to an area and are usually accompanied by large-scale oceanographic phenomena that modify ocean conditions from weeks to months. Further, cyst production may be important because it creates a mechanism for future blooms, survival through environmental stresses, as well as introduces genetic diversity (recombination) into the population. The available information regarding phytoplankton range extensions is focussed on potentially toxic or biogeochemically important taxa. For example, the cyst-producing dinoflagellate Pyrodinium bahamense is presently confined to tropical, mangrove-fringed coastal waters of the Atlantic and Indo-West Pacific. Starting in 1972 in Papua New Guinea, red-brown water discolorations coincided with the fatal food poisoning of three children in a seaside village, diagnosed as Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). Since then, the incidence of toxic blooms have spread to Brunei and Sabah (1976), the central (1983) and northern Philippines (1987) and Indonesia (North Mollucas). Pyrodinium is a serious public health and economic problem for tropical countries, all of which depend heavily on seafood for protein. In the Philippines alone, Pyrodinium has now been responsible for more than 2000 human illnesses and 100 deaths resulting from the consumption of contaminated shellfish as well as sardines and anchovies (Maclean 1989; Hallegraeff and Maclean 1989; Azanza and Taylor 2001). There exists strong circumstantial evidence of coincidence between Pyrodinium blooms and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO; Maclean 1989). A survey of cyst fossils (named Polysphaeridium zoharyii) going back to the warmer Eocene 50 million years ago indicates a much wider range of distribution in the past. For example, in the Australasian region at present, the alga is not found in the plankton further south than Papua New Guinea but, some 120,000 years ago, the alga ranged as far south as Belahdelah (32oS) just north of Sydney (McMinn 1988). There is concern that with increased warming of the oceans this species may return to Australian waters.

Ciguatera, caused by the benthic dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus ‘species complex’, which adheres to corals, macroalgae and seagrasses, is predominantly a tropical fish food poisoning syndrome well-known in coral reef areas in the Caribbean, Australia, and especially French Polynesia. Whereas, in a strict sense, this is a completely natural phenomenon, from being a rare disease two centuries ago, ciguatera has now reached epidemic proportions in French Polynesia. Evidence is accumulating that reef disturbance by hurricanes, military and tourist developments (Bagnis et al. 1985), as well as coral bleaching (linked to global warming), increased water temperatures, and perhaps increasing coral damage due to ocean acidification are increasing the risk of ciguatera by freeing up space for macroalgae or creating coral rubble for Gambierdiscus to colonize. During El Niño events, ciguatera increased on Pacific islands where sea surface temperatures warmed (Hales et al. 2001). In the Australian region, Gambierdiscus is well-known from the tropical Great Barrier Reef and southwards to just north of Brisbane (25oS), but in the period 2005-2008 and 2012 this species was consistently present in South-East Australian sea grass beds as far south as Bermagui, Merimbula, Wonboyn Lake (37oS), probably aided by increasing southward extent of the East Australian Current (EAC). It is not yet known whether this represents a seasonal (April-May) EAC-driven incursion, or whether this species is able to overwinter in southern waters. A similar expansion of Gambierdiscus into the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic has also been reported (Aligizaki et al. 2008).

The red-tide dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans (known from Sydney as early as 1860) has expanded its range from Sydney into Southern Tasmanian waters since 1994 where dense gelatinous surface slicks (rich in ammonia) have caused problems for the salmonid fish farm industry . Dakin and Colefax (1933) observed this species to be a minor component of the phytoplankton in New South Wales coastal waters and Wood (1954) in his extensive Australia-wide net-phytoplankton surveys reported this taxon to occur only in Australian east coast estuaries. The first visible Noctiluca “red tide” event was not reported until August 1982 in Lake Macquarie, central New South Wales. However, from a rare bloom former in the 1980s, since 1993 this organism has developed into one of the most prominent red-tide organisms in Sydney coastal waters soon after the commissioning of three deepwater ocean sewage outfalls off Australia’s largest coastal city. El Niño years such as 1997 have exhibited the densest Noctiluca blooms, which occasionally have forced closures of Sydney public beaches during spring and summer. While Noctiluca was virtually absent during a seasonal study of Sydney coastal waters during 1978-79, in a repeat survey in 1997-98 the species was present in 61% of samples. Irregular influxes of Noctiluca, most likely carried by the East Australian Current, have also been seen in Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne (since 1993) and Tasmania (since March 1994). No Noctiluca bloom reports are known from Tasmania (43oS) prior to this date. A bloom event, which apparently started off the East Coast of Tasmania in September 2001, culminated in March 2002 into a significant threat to the salmonid aquaculture industry in Nubeena on the Tasman Peninsula. Noctiluca blooms have persisted in Tasmanian waters ever since, notably in the period 2001-2006 (Thompson et al. 2008). While in New South Wales, this dinoflagellate proliferates at water temperatures of 19-24oC, in colder Tasmanian waters it now has established permanent overwintering populations and thrives even in winter months at temperatures of 10-12oC. We interpret that the gradual warming of East Coast Tasmanian waters, associated with a greater influence of the East Australian Current (Ridgway 2007), has paved the way for the apparent range extension of this warm-water organism into Tasmanian waters. More difficult to explain is how in 2008, the first tropical red Noctiluca bloom was reported from Cairns Harbour in Queensland in March, followed by bloom reports from Port Esperance, Western Australia, and Port Lincoln, South Australia, in May-June (Hallegraeff et al. 2008). It was common in Moreton Bay waters off Brisbane following the 2011 flood (AJ Richardson pers. comm.). In December 2010, a further range expansion of Noctiluca driven by an EAC eddy was observed 240 km south of Tasmania into the Southern Ocean (McLeod et al. 2012; see Fig. 1).

Fig.1. Occurrence of red tide dinoflagellate Noctiluca , June 2009-Jan 2012, at IMOS National Reference stations and in AusCPR continuous plankton recorder tows (Data provided by A.J. Richardson & C. Davies).

Potential Impacts by the 2030s and 2100s: 

Growing seasons

Several well-studied toxic dinoflagellates such as Alexandrium catenella in Puget Sound (Moore et al. 2008 a,b) and Gymnodinium catenatum in Tasmania, Australia (Hallegraeff et al. 1995) bloom in well-defined seasonal temperature windows (>13 and >10oC , respectively). Climate change scenarios are predicted to generate longer-lasting bloom windows, of which some early signs can be seen with Gymnodinium catenatum now persisting in Tasmania through warmer winter months (Hallegraeff et al. 2012).

In the North Sea, the North Atlantic Oscillation has been shown to affect the length of the phytoplankton growing season, which has increased in parallel with the warming of sea surface temperatures (Barton et al. 2003). Seasonal timing of phytoplankton blooms is now occurring up to 4-5 weeks earlier. Coastal stations at Port Hacking, Rottnest Island and Maria Island all show significant lengthening of the growing season (warmer temperatures in spring and autumn) over the past ~50 years, but there is no evidence to date of earlier phytoplankton spring blooms (Thompson et al. 2009).

There is also evidence of changes in dissolved nutrient concentrations in Australian coastal waters, with a marked decline in silicate in SE Australia (Thompson et al. 2011). Declines in silicate have been reported elsewhere in the ocean (Goffart et al. 2002), are widely expected in a warming world where the vertical delivery of nutrients to the surface ocean may be slowed due to stratification, or decreased rainfall and freshwater runoff (Cai and Cowan 2008; Gong et al. 2006), and are anticipated to restrict the abundance of diatoms (Behrenfeld et al. 2006). Where individual zooplankton or fish grazers are differentially impacted by ocean warming, this may have cascading impacts on the structure of marine food webs (“match-mismatch” sensu Cushing 1974).

Ocean acidification

Increasing atmospheric CO2 is leading to ocean acidification, which can potentially have an adverse impact on calcifying organisms. The most important calcifier in terms of biomass and carbon sequestration is the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi (Riebesell et al 2000). Calculations based on CO2 measurements of the surface oceans indicate that oceans take up about half the CO2 produced by fossil fuel burning and this has led to a reduction of surface pH by 0.1 unit. Under the current scenario of continuing global CO2 emissions from human activities, average ocean pH is predicted to fall by 0.4 units by the year 2100 (Orr et al., 2005). Such pH is lower than has been experienced for millennia and, critically, this rate of change is 100 times faster than ever experienced in the known history of our planet (Raven et al. 2005). Initial concerns focused on reduced calcification (Riebesell et al. 2000), but we now recognize that increased CO2 at the same time stimulates photosynthesis and can sometimes stimulate calcification (Iglesias-Rodriguez et al. 2008). The effect of complex interactions among increased CO2, light and temperature on the calcification and photosynthesis dynamics of Emiliania huxleyi were amply demonstrated by Feng et al. (2008), while geographic strain variability of this “cosmopolitan” taxon has confounded interpretations. The potential of evolution and adaptation to a changing ocean, in regard to temperature and CO2/pH, is not well understood as few experiments have been carried out through multiple generations of organisms. Micro-organisms with short generation times (such as Emiliania huxleyi) may be able to genetically adapt to a new environment Field observations of E. huxleyi have been suggesting an apparent range-extension in the past two decades towards both the Arctic (Bering Sea; Merico et al. 2003) and Antarctic (Cubillos et al. 2008), but the reasons for this are no means clear. Elevated CO2 (but not elevated temperature or combined) has also been shown to increase rates of nitrogen fixation in the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium erythraeum (Hutchins et al. 2007), with potential to increase its global distribution in oligotrophic waters. Ocean acidification has also been claimed to decrease the availability of iron to phytoplankton (Shi et al. 2010). This may be a much more powerful environmental driver, especially in the iron-limited Southern Ocean. Further, in some coastal systems such as the Gulf of Mexico and the East China Sea, eutrophication is exacerbating the effect of ocean acidification (Cai et al. 2011). Nutrients locally can fuel excessive production of algae, and microbial consumption of this organic matter lowers the oxygen content and produces carbon dioxide, potentially increasing the susceptibility of coastal waters to ocean acidification. However, coastal phytoplankton communities appear more resilient to ocean acidification than oceanic communities (Nielsen et al. 2010, 2012).

Extreme events, storms and rainfall

Episodic storm events affect the timing of freshwater flow, residence time, and the export of nutrients to the coastal ocean including the magnitude, composition (inorganic versus organic; Seitzinger et al. 2002) and timing of nutrient pulses. Changes in the amount or timing of rainfall and river runoff affects the salinity of estuaries and coastal waters. There is some evidence for increasing salinities in Port Phillip Bay and other coastal locations as a result of the long drought through the 2000s (Thompson et al. 2009). Freshwater also modifies the stratification of the water column, thereby affecting nutrient resupply from below. While diatoms seem to be negatively affected by the decrease in nutrient concentrations associated with river discharge, dinoflagellates often benefit as this usually increases stratification and the competitive advantage of vertically migrating species as well as the availability of humic substances for growth (Doblin et al. 2006). Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning dinoflagellate blooms of Gymnodinium catenatum (in Tasmania; Hallegraeff et al. 1995) tend to be closely associated with land runoff events. Given the diversity of coastal settings in Australia that receive winter or summer-dominated rainfall, impacts of changes in land runoff are likely to be regionally specific. Finally, a massive central Australian dust storm in September 2009 was associated with abundant potentially pathogenic Aspergillus sydowii fungal spores and hyphae in coastal waters between Brisbane and Sydney (Hallegraeff et al. submitted). Southern and central Australia are projected to become drier under most climate change scenarios, and more frequent dust storms could increase the risk of fungal diseases for marine ecosystems.

Table 1. Observed and projected changes in phytoplankton characteristics of Australia’s marine realm.

*Cubillos et al. 2007; **Beardall & Raven 2004, Beardall & Stojkovic 2006, Beardall et al 2009, † Goffart et al. 2002)

Key Points: 

• Prediction of the impact of global climate change on marine phytoplankton is fraught with uncertainties
• We can expect: (1) Range expansion of warm-water species at the expense of cold-water species, both of which are driven polewards; (2) Changes in the abundance and seasonal window of growth of selected phytoplankton species; (3) Knock-on effects for marine food webs, when individual zooplankton and fish grazers are differentially impacted (“match-mismatch”) by climate change
• Some harmful algal bloom phenomena (e.g. toxic dinoflagellates benefitting from land runoff and/or water column stratification, tropical benthic dinoflagellates responding to increased water temperatures and coral reef disturbance) may become worse, while others may diminish in areas currently impacted
• Increased vigilance in seafood biotoxin and algal bloom monitoring programmes is needed (see also Anderson et al. 2012)

Confidence Assessments

Observed Impacts: 

Observed Impacts

There is MEDIUM evidence and a LOW-MEDIUM consensus, therefore LOW-MEDIUM confidence, of climate-driven changes in phytoplankton Australian waters due to a lack of long-term data series.

Potential impacts by the 2030s and 2100s

There is MEDIUM evidence and a MEDIUM-HIGH consensus from studies elsewhere and from retrospective studies (sedimentary records) that climate change will impact Australian phytoplankton this century. Therefore, a MEDIUM confidence level was assigned.

Adaptation Responses

Adaptation Actions

No adaptations to reduce the exposure of phytoplankton to climate change currently appear practical. Range expansions of warm-water species at the expense of cold-water taxa cannot be simply halted. Decreases in phytoplankton biomass associated with increased water column stability cannot be simply mitigated with e.g. nutrient fertilization. Similarly, mitigating ocean acidification by means of lime fertilization has never yet been tried. However, management actions to reduce risks of eutrophication of the coastal ocean may mitigate the potential increase in susceptibility of these local waters to ocean acidification. Management strategies to reduce nutrient enrichment of Australia’s coastal zone have already been implemented. Despite their high ongoing running costs, benefits are decreased risk of eutrophication, some harmful algal blooms, fish kills, jellyfish blooms, and increased biodiversity.

The global nature of the phytoplankton habitat as well as their intrinsic life cycle features render any mitigation approaches of climate change impacts impractical, as amply demonstrated by the significant research efforts into iron fertilization. The only approaches left to us are to improve our understanding of how Australian phytoplankton populations have responded to past climate and improve our understanding how mixed phytoplankton communities (studied in carefully planned mesocosm experiments) respond to climate variables. From this we hopefully can develop better confidence in their adaptative capabilities.The Australian Continuous Plankton Recorder surveys (part of the Integrated Marine Observing System) and Southern Ocean CPR surveys (AAD) are now surveying phytoplankton off the east, south and west coasts of Australian and Southern Ocean waters. National Reference Stations (IMOS) are characterising water column properties and phytoplankton composition at key sites, and satellite data are increasingly being used to understand climate-driven changes (e.g., ENSO) in phytoplankton biomass and distribution.

Adaptation Responses

Future responses could include a more coordinated system of monitoring phytoplankton and toxins in the Australian seafood and mariculture industry and a means of rapid communication if problems emerge. This is underway with the establishment of a National Biotoxin Reference Laboratory in Sydney.

We need a better understanding of links between phytoplankton and marine foodwebs supporting commercially important shellfish and fish stocks. Harvested populations should be monitored for changes in condition as a result of changes in phytoplankton biomass or nutritional quality.

The high probability of range expansions by toxic species outside their normal range requires health care workers and environmental agencies be alerted to the symptoms and adjust their monitoring appropriately.

Knowledge Gaps

• The response to elevated CO2 has been determined in <5% of phytoplankton species, so we have an incomplete knowledge of the ecophysiological responses of phytoplankton to climate change
• Few long-term Australian phytoplankton records exist at any single locality, where ideally we need several decades to recognise, understand and eventually predict trends in phytoplankton species distributions
• Complex factor interactions exist and simulated ecophysiological laboratory experiments rarely allow for sufficient acclimation or potential adaptation, or take into account physiological plasticity and genetic strain diversity. Only a limited number of mixed phytoplankton populations have been investigated in laboratory settings, and these have not been able to replicate physical changes in ocean conditions such as enhanced surface stratification and alteration of ocean currents, intensification or weakening of local nutrient upwelling, stimulation of photosynthesis by elevated CO2, reduced calcification through ocean acidification, heavy precipitation and storm events causing changes in land runoff and micronutrient availability, which may all produce contradictory species- or even strain-specific responses. Large mesocosm facilities in Europe and Korea are producing data to address at least some of these issues, but no such facility yet exists in Australia
• At the regional scale, there is little understanding how offshore oceanographic processes affect nearshore coastal waters and how inter-annual and decadal variability in climate (let alone long-term changes) affects phytoplankton populations
Warming, enhanced surface stratification, alteration of ocean currents, changed rainfall patterns, intensification or weakening of local nutrient upwelling, stimulation of photosynthesis by elevated CO2, reduced calcification through ocean acidification, heavy precipitation and storm events causing changes in land runoff and micronutrient availability, may all produce contradictory species- or even strain-specific responses. A combination of laboratory and field approaches over multiple spatial and temporal scales are necessary to predict climate impacts on phytoplankton.

To address present uncertainties, we recommend:
• Keystone phytoplankton species from around Australia be brought into culture and studied for their responses to variables such as elevated temperature and CO2 and changing pH (see CSIRO Collection of Living Microalgae http://www.marine.csiro.au/microalgae/)
• Maintaining existing long-term monitoring programs in coastal waters that document phytoplankton species composition (see Integrated Marine Observing System, National Reference Stations and Australian Continuous Plankton Recorder at http://imos.org.au/)
• Increasing the spatial and temporal sampling of phytoplankton in the ocean using optical sensors that record phytoplankton abundance, information about species composition, physiological health and productivity (see information on instrumentation including multi-wavelength and variable fluorometers on moorings, ocean gliders, ships at http://imos.org.au/; and CSIRO Remote Sensing Facility http://www.marine.csiro.au/~lband/)
• Integrate far-field oceanographic processes with those in near-shore coastal waters using ship-based observations, satellite remote sensing and regional ocean models to examine impacts of oceanographic currents, eddies and other large-scale processes on phytoplankton (see National Marine Facility http://www.marine.csiro.au/nationalfacility/)
• Integrate observations of freshwater flow and estuarine dynamics with regional ocean models to examine impacts of changing rainfall patterns on nutrient, sediment and other pollutant fluxes and the response of phytoplankton to short-term weather events and long-term climate influences (e.g. El Niño-Southern Oscillation) (see Bluelink ocean forecasting http://www.marine.csiro.au/bluelink/)
• To understand the effect of complex factor interactions, Australia needs a large mesocosm facility to conduct manipulative experiments on phytoplankton species. Plans are underway to expand the newly established Tropical Ocean Simulator (AIMS) with a proposed Cold-Water and Temperate Ocean Simulator facility (IMAS).

Observations and Modelling

Observation Programs

Starting in 2009, the IMOS National Reference Stations and AusCPR continuous plankton recorder tows have significantly enhanced Australia-wide phytoplankton and biogeochemical data collections.

Micropaleontological surveys for historic phytoplankton trends in the Australian region are extremely limited, with the exception of dinoflagellate cysts in relation to oil exploration and coccolithophorids in the Southern Ocean. An expansion of micropaleontological approaches is desirable.


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