Research Topic

Climate Change and Light in Aquatic Ecosystems: Variability & Ecological Consequences

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About this Research Topic

Light is a master variable in aquatic ecosystems. Light intensity and spectral distribution hold the key to understanding the dynamics and variability of physical, biological and chemical processes on all scales in aquatic ecosystems. It is a major driver of energy and material flow through aquatic ...

Light is a master variable in aquatic ecosystems. Light intensity and spectral distribution hold the key to understanding the dynamics and variability of physical, biological and chemical processes on all scales in aquatic ecosystems. It is a major driver of energy and material flow through aquatic ecosystems, it can also be a limiting or co-limiting resource as well as a basis for competition. For example, light introduces heat in the upper water layer, drives primary production, and degrades substances. The quantity and spectral composition of underwater light is highly variable, nevertheless, a common set of physical and optical principles govern the light climate in all environments such that general insights can be drawn from studies of both marine and freshwater systems.

Because of light’s central role, it is important to understand how global climate and other environmental changes are affecting light in all aquatic environments including inland, coastal, and marine ecosystems. For example, there have been shifts in circulation and stratification related to warming water temperatures and shorter winters, all are altering the underwater light environment. In general, we need a better grasp of both the timing and the magnitude of altered light conditions in aquatic ecosystems on a global scale.

The goal of this Research Topic is to provide a broad overview of how aquatic light environments are changing at present, and how they may change in the future. We encourage submissions that document factors contributing to changes in transparency and the resultant impacts on ecosystem processes in both freshwater and marine environments. Of particular interest are contributions about how the key effects of climate change, including surface warming, increased/decreased runoff & ice melt, variations in cloud cover and wind stress and increased/decreased pH, interact to affect the aquatic light environment. We invite submissions based on field, laboratory, modeling, and predictive studies, investigating both basic and applied research questions related to underwater light.



Keywords: transparency, browning, photosynthetically available radiation, ultraviolet radiation


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