A statistical analysis of climate variability and ecosystem response in the German Bight

In this publication we document a regime shift (a rapid re-organisation occurring in a natural system from one steady-state to another steady-state) in the German Bight climate and biogeochemical system in the year 1987/88. The shift appears to be associated with an increase in sea surface and air temperature. Various ecological variables have been affected including a decrease in some fish species and an increase in gelatinous zooplankton.

Furthermore, we note an important increase in red tide forming species. We could not detect any connection between the long-term changes of abiotic forcing and some important planktonic organisms such as Calanus helgolandicus and diatoms, suggesting that the lower trophic levels of the ecosystem are remarkably resilient.
The changes observed in this study occurred during a period of important modifications to the North Sea ecosystem. Therefore, we believe that a better understanding could be achieved of the mechanisms influencing marine ecosystems by investing co-occurring ecological changes over the Northern Hemisphere, thereby linking large- and small-scale processes and their influence on the regional and local ecological systems.

The whole article appeared in
Ocean Dynamics, Volume 58, Numbers 3-4 / November 2008, S.169-186:
"A statistical analysis of climate variability and ecosystem response in the German Bight " by Merja H. Schlüter, Agostino Merico, Karen H. Wiltshire, Wulf Greve and Hans von Storch


Abb.: The first principal component (PC1) of the principal component analysis of the full set of variables for the time period from 1975 to 2004. The black vertical bar is shown before the data point 1988.



Merja Schlüter
GKSS Research Centre
Institute for Coastal Research
Max-Planck-Str. 1
D-21502 Geesthacht

Email: Merja.Schlueter[at]