Decadal changes of the Western Arabian sea ecosystem


1 College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, Al-Khod 123, P.O. Box 34, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

2 Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ, UK


Historical data from oceanographic expeditions and remotely sensed data on outgoing longwave radiation, temperature, wind speed and ocean color in the western Arabian Sea (1950–2010) were used to investigate decadal trends in the physical and biochemical properties of the upper 300 m. 72 % of the 29,043 vertical profiles retrieved originated from USA and UK expeditions. Increasing outgoing longwave radiation, surface air temperatures and sea surface temperature were identified on decadal timescales. These were well correlated with decreasing wind speeds associated with a reduced Siberian High atmospheric anomaly. Shoaling of the oxycline and nitracline was observed as well as acidification of the upper 300 m. These physical and chemical changes were accompanied by declining chlorophyll-a concentrations, vertical macrofaunal habitat compression, declining sardine landings and an increase of fish kill incidents along the Omani coast.