Effect of sea surface temperature and precipitation on annual frequency of harmful algal blooms in the East China Sea over the past decades.


Zhou Y(1), Yan W(2), Wei W(3).
Author information:
(1)School of Oceanography, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 200030, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(2)Institute of Geographic Science and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China.
(3)Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory for Coastal Ecology and Environmental Studies, Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, 361102, China.


Coastal harmful algal blooms (HABs) in China's seas have attracted researchers' attention for decades. Among the four seas of China, the HAB frequency is the highest in the East China Sea (ECS). The impact of climate change and anthropogenic dominant factors on HABs is not well quantified and the response of HABs to the changing climate is also not clear. Here, we compiled a time series of observation-based HAB events since the 1980s and performed a regional assessment to elucidate the dominant drivers of HAB events in the ECS. The results showed that the increase in the frequency of HAB events in the ECS between 2000 and 2003 was associated with increases in dissolved inorganic phosphorus and sea surface temperature anomalies as well as decreasing summer precipitation. The declining annual frequency in HAB events in the ECS after 2003 was associated with the two climatological factors, most notably, precipitation. Under the "business-as-usual" scenario, climate change will increase the annual HAB events in the ECS from the historical frequency (1985-2013) by more than five-fold by the end of 21st century. These findings demonstrated that management strategies based on reducing nutrient loading also need to consider the effects of climate change in the future.