The Marine chapter of the 2016 State of the Environment (SoE) report incorporates multiple expert templates developed from
streams of marine data. This metadata record describes the Expert Assessment "The state and trends of habitats and communities
- water column, abyss (>700 m)". The full Expert Assessment, including figures and tables (where provided), is attached
to this record. Where available, the Data Stream(s) used to generate this Expert Assessment are accessible through the "On-line
Resources" section of this record.
DESCRIPTION OF HABITAT/COMMUNITY FOR EXPERT ASSESSMENT
The water column is home to a diversity of communities. The relative biomass of the major communities is estimated to be
300:75:10:1 for phytoplankton, bacteria, zooplankton and higher predators in the southern ocean (Marchant 2002). For these
dominant communities the major determinants of habitat quality is considered to be temperature (T), salinity (S), light,
nutrients, dissolved oxygen (DO), pH, and food availability. SOE assessments for fish, EBPC listed species, marine mammals
and benthic communities are found at elsewhere in this chapter. The phytoplankton community dominates the water column in
terms of biomass and is the basis of all food for the other communities. Phytoplankton are all produced in the illuminated
upper ~ 100m of the water column with light, phytoplankton biomass and food for other organisms generally declining exponentially
with depth (Rex et al., 2006). At intermediate depths there is typically an oxygen and salinity minimum plus a nutrient
maximum while deeper waters are progressively colder.
The major potential threats to the water column as habitat can be considered to be: warming of ocean, declining nutrients
in the surface mixed layer (SLM), reductions in primary production, declining DO (Talley et al., 2016), decreasing pH and
over fishing. The SLM from Port Hedland to Cape Howe has risen ~ 1°C from 1993 to 2013 (Foster et al., 2014), and portions
of the SW region were 3°C hotter during February 2011 than normal (Pearce and Feng 2013). Open ocean phytoplankton biomass
and primary production have generally declined at mid latitudes (Siegel et al., 2013, Signorini et al., 2015) although they
have increased in the SE region (Matear et al., 2013; Kelly et al., 2015). There is very little evidence available of any
other biotic responses from the water column to these climatic pressures although concerns over acidification continue
to grow (e.g. Mongin et al., 2016) especially for deep sea corals (Thresher et al., 2011; Thresher et al., 2015).
DATA STREAM(S) USED IN EXPERT ASSESSMENT
Chlorophyll a data are computed from the level 3 (L3) daily global products using one merging method following Maritorena
and Siegel (2005). Details can be found at http://www.globcolour.info/products_description.html
Zooplankton data are from Australia’s National Reference Stations operated by the Integrated Marine Observing System.
2016 SOE ASSESSMENT SUMMARY [see attached Expert Assessment for full details]
• 2016 •
Assessment grade: Good
Assessment trend: Unclear
Confidence grade: Limited evidence or limited consensus
Confidence trend: Limited evidence or limited consensus
Comparability: Grade and trend are somewhat comparable to the 2011 assessment
• 2011 •
Assessment grade: Very good
Assessment trend: Stable
CHANGES SINCE 2011 SOE ASSESSMENT
This assessment uses observations from a greater range of spatial and temporal scales allowing a better assessment of current
state and trends to be made. The time series of observations is becoming long enough to distinguish temporal variability associated
with shorter term climate cycles (e.g. ENSO) from the longer term but relatively gradual impacts of climate change. These
longer term trends are more apparent today than ever before. Consequently the SOE grade applicable to an increasing portion
of these waters should be downgraded from ‘very good’ to ‘good’.
Feng, M., McPhaden, M. J., Xie, S., & Hafner, J. 2013. La Niña forces unprecedented Leeuwin Current warming in 2011. Scientific
Reports 3, 1277; DOI:10.1038/srep01277.
Foster, S.D., Griffin, D.A., Dunstan, P.K. 2014. Twenty Years of High-Resolution Sea Surface Temperature Imagery around Australia:
Inter-Annual and Annual Variability. PLoS ONE 9(7): e100762. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100762
Kelly, P., Clementson, L., Lyne, V. 2015. Decadal and seasonal changes in temperature, salinity, nitrate, and chlorophyll
in inshore and offshore waters along southeast Australia. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 120: 4226.
Maritorena, S. and Siegel, D.A. 2005. Consistent Merging of Satellite Ocean Colour Data Sets Using a Bio-Optical Model. Remote
Sensing of Environment, 94, 4, 429-440.
Matear, R. J., M. A. Chamberlain, C. Sun, and M. Feng. 2013. Climate change projection of the Tasman Sea from an Eddy-resolving
Ocean Model, J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 118: 2961–2976
Mongin, M., Baird, M.E., Tilbrook, B., Matear, R/J., Lenton, A., Herzfeld, M., Wild-Allen, K., Skerratt, J., Margvelashvili,
N., Robson, B.J., Duarte, C.M., Gustafsson, M.S.M., Ralph, P.J., Steven, A.D.L. 2016. The exposure of the Great Barrier
Reef to ocean acidification. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10732
Siegel DA, Behrenfeld MJ, Maritorena S, McClain, C.R., Anoine, D., Bailey, S.W., Botempi, P.S., Boss, E.S., Dierssen, H.M.,
Doney, S.C., Eplee, Jr., R.E., Evens, R.H., Feldman, G.C., Fields, E., Franz, B.A., Kuring, N.A., Mengelt, C., Nelson,
N.B., Patt, F.S., Robinson, W.D., Sarmento, J.L., Swan, C.M., Werdell, P.J., Westbury, T.K., Wilding, J.G., Yoder, J.A. 2013.
Regional to global assessments of phytoplankton dynamics from the SeaWiFS mission. Remote Sensing of Environment, 135, 77–91.
Stramma, L., Schmidtko, S., Levin, L.A., Johnson, G.C., 2010. Ocean oxygen minima expansions and their biological impacts.
Deep-Sea Research I, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2010.01.005
Stramma, L., Prince, E.D., Schmidtko, S., Luo, J., Hoolihan, J.P., Visbeck, M., Wallace, D.W.R., Brandt, P. & Körtzinger,
A. 2012. Expansion of oxygen minimum zones may reduce available habitat for tropical pelagic fishes. Nature Climate Change
Thompson, PA, Bonham, P, Rochester, W, Doblin, MA, Waite, AM, Richardson A, Rousseaux C. 2015. Climate variability drives
plankton community composition changes: an El Niño to La Niña transition around Australia. J. Plankton Res. 37(5): 966–984.
Thompson, P.A., Baird, M.E., Ingleton, T., Doblin, M.A. 2009 Long-term changes in temperate Australian coastal waters and
implications for phytoplankton. Marine Ecology Progress Series 384: 1-19.
Thompson, P.A., T. O’Brien, K. Isensee, L. Lorenzoni, et al. 2016. The Indian Ocean, in What are Marine Ecological Time Series
telling us about the ocean? A status report. O'Brien, T.D., Isensee, K., Lorenzoni, L., Valdés, J.L. (eds). IOC-UNESCO,
Paris. IOC Technical Series, No. 129. In review.
Thresher, R.E., Tilbrook, B., Fallon, S., Wilson, N.C. and Adkins, J. 2011. Effects of chronic low carbonate saturation
levels on the distribution, growth and skeletal chemistry of deep-sea corals and other seamount megabenthos. Marine Ecology
Progress Series 442: 87-99.
Thresher, R.E., Guinotte, J.M., Matear, R.J., Hobday, A.J. 2015. Options for managing impacts of climate change on a deep-sea
community. Nature Climate Change 5: DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2611.
QUALITY OF DATA USED IN THE ASSESSMENT
Spatial and temporal coverage are excellent. Conversion of ocean colour to chlorophyll a introduces a source of potential
error. Data could be extracted for each region to allow improved regional assessments of state and trend.
CUSTODIAN AND LOCATION OF DATA
The remotely sensed data and details can be found at http://www.globcolour.info/products_description.html
The in situ zooplankton data and details can be found at: https://portal.aodn.org.au/search (see links in On-line resources section of this record for specific datasets).
METHOD USED TO DETERMINE STATE OR RECENT TREND
Linear regression fit to each pixel over the duration from 1997 to 2015.
When citing this Expert Assessment in a list of references use the following format:
citation author name/s (year metadata published), metadata title. Citation author organisation/s. File identifier and Data
accessed at (add http link).