• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

The North Sea regime shift: evidence, causes, mechanisms and consequences

Progress in Oceanography (2004)
Beaugrand G (ed)
Doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2004.02.018
Vol 60; Issue 2-4; pp. 245-262

This paper focuses on the ecosystem regime shift in the North Sea that occurred during the period 1982–1988. The evidence for the change is seen from individual species to key ecosystem parameters such as diversity and from phytoplankton to fish. Although many biological/ecosystem parameters and individual species exhibited a stepwise change during the period 1983–1988, some indicators show no evidence of change. The cause of the regime shift is likely to be related to pronounced changes in large-scale hydro-meteorological forcing. This involved activating of complex intermediate physical mechanisms which explains why the exact timing of the shift can vary from 1982 to 1988 (centred around two periods: 1982–1985 and 1987–1988) according to the species or taxonomic group. Increased sea surface temperature and possibly change in wind intensity and direction at the end of the 1970s in the west European basin triggered a change in the location of an oceanic biogeographical boundary along the European continental shelf. This affected both the stable and substrate biotope components of North Sea marine ecosystems (i.e. components related to the water masses and components which are geographically stable) circa 1984. Large-scale hydro-climatic forcing also modified local hydro-meteorological parameters around the North Sea after 1987 affecting the stable biotope components of North Sea ecosystems. Problems related to the detection and quantification of an ecosystem regime shift are discussed.

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