About this Research Topic
Phytoplankton has an impact on climate change by reducing atmospheric CO2 levels through the sinking of produced organic and inorganic matter to the deep ocean. Climate change or more specifically global warming, with consequences of elevated seawater temperatures and decreased pH levels, undoubtedly influences phytoplankton dynamics, changing phytoplankton composition, geography and biomass in the oceans. Other potential consequences of the temperature increase on phytoplankton could be temporal shifts in the onset of the regular annual blooms, their composition, duration and amplitude as well as mismatches in timing between trophic levels.
The overall impact of increased temperatures on phytoplankton is not easy to assess due to variable and even contrasting consequences. On one hand, it is well known that increasing temperatures will bring about more stratified surface waters in summer months with decreasing amounts of nutrients trapped inside, sustaining a low phytoplankton biomass at low latitudes, but on the other hand, the increase in temperature may also lead to higher growth rates of phytoplankton with increased CO2 uptake rates from the atmosphere at high latitudes. Besides, in some coastal ecosystems, climate change has been associated with strong winds and high rainfall which generally influence phytoplankton biomass positively due to mixing and nutrient loads. Reduced frequency of cold winters and unusual types of phytoplankton succession have also been reported in some regions. Both phytoplankton and zooplankton communities (i.e. foraminiferans, coccolithophores, pteropods and echinoderms) have been found to migrate poleward as a result of global warming. A decrease in the ratio of dinoflagellate to diatom abundance at high latitudes has also been observed.
The aim of this Research Topic is to collect studies on present and future possible global or local changes in phytoplankton with respect to climate change and its consequences. Welcomed sub-topics related to climate change include but are not limited to: (a) Long-term changes of phytoplankton structure and abundance, (b) Frequency of harmful blooms and appearance of the non-native species, (c) Changes in physiology and as well as in adaptation strategies of phytoplankton, (d) Consequences of the climate change affecting phytoplankton (acidification, stagnation, nutrient chemistry etc.), (e) Changes in energy flows from phytoplankton to higher trophic levels.
Keywords: phytoplankton dynamics, climate change, acidification, coccolithophores
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