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Dimethylsulphide, clouds, and phytoplankton: Insights from a simple plankton ecosystem feedback model

By Roger Cropp, John Norbury and Roger D. Braddock


The hypothesis that marine plankton ecosystems may effectively regulate climate by the production of dimethylsulphide (DMS) has attracted substantial research effort over recent years. This hypothesis suggests that DMS produced by marine ecosystems can affect cloud properties and hence the averaged irradiance experienced by the phytoplankton that produce DMS’s precursor dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP). This paper describes the use of a simple model to examine the effects of such a biogenic feedback on the ecosystem that initiates it. We compare the responses to perturbation of a simple marine nitrogen-phytoplankton-zooplankton (NPZ) ecosystem model with and without biogenic feedback. Our analysis of this heuristic model reveals that the addition of the feedback can increase the model’s resilience to perturbation and hence stabilize the model ecosystem. This result suggests the hypothesis that DMS may play a role in stabilizing marine plankton ecosystem dynamics through its effect on the atmosphere

Topics: Biology and other natural sciences
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1029/2006GB002812
OAI identifier:

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