Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 05 Issue 03

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Volume 05, No. 3
Pages 163 - 168

REVIEW AND COMMENT • Comments on the Global Ocean Observing Capabilities, Indicator Species as Climate Proxies, and the Need for Timely Ocean Monitoring

Gary D. SharpDouglas R. McLain
First Paragraph

Conventional studies of paleoclimate, paleoceanography, and plate tectonics rely upon analyses of patterns within geologic strata, often characterized by biological and ecological indicators or markers. Chronostratigraphies of these sorts have been used to characterize the ocean and local climate, from understanding of arrays of fundamental, species-specific physiologically limiting parameters (e.g., temperature, oxygen, salinity, and/or fresh-water flow rates; Sharp, 1988). Chronologically ordered species-assemblage records, coveting millions of years, provide the basis for much of what we know about climate history. Distributions of species that occupy ocean Transition Zones (regions of strong thermal and climatic gradients) and those that inhabit the thermal regimes on either side of these Transition Zones provide useful indicators of underlying physical regimes. In the short term, seasonal patterns and anomalies provide us with insights into watermass movements and in the longer term, El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and other climate-driven ocean changes.


Sharp, G.D., and D.R. McLean. 1992. Comments on the global ocean observing capabilities, indicator species as climate proxies, and the need for timely ocean monitoring. Oceanography 5(3):163–168, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.1992.10.