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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Feb 12;110(7):2496-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1218022110. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

A double-integration hypothesis to explain ocean ecosystem response to climate forcing.

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  • 1School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA.


Long-term time series of marine ecological indicators often are characterized by large-amplitude state transitions that can persist for decades. Understanding the significance of these variations depends critically on the underlying hypotheses characterizing expected natural variability. Using a linear autoregressive model in combination with long-term zooplankton observations off the California coast, we show that cumulative integrations of white-noise atmospheric forcing can generate marine population responses that are characterized by strong transitions and prolonged apparent state changes. This model provides a baseline hypothesis for explaining ecosystem variability and for interpreting the significance of abrupt responses and climate change signatures in marine ecosystems.

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