Yangtze River floods enhance coastal ocean phytoplankton biomass and potential fish production

Gwo Ching Gong*, Kon Kee Liu, Kuo Ping Chiang, Tung Ming Hsiung, Jeng Chang, Chung Chi Chen, Chin Chang Hung, Wen Chen Chou, Chih Ching Chung, Hung Yu Chen, Fuh Kwo Shiah, An Yi Tsai, Chih Hao Hsieh, Jen Chieh Shiao, Chun Mao Tseng, Shih Chieh Hsu, Hung Jen Lee, Ming An Lee, I. I. Lin, Fujung Tsai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


The occurrence of extreme weather conditions appears on the rise under current climate change conditions, resulting in more frequent and severe floods. The devastating floods in southern China in 2010 and eastern Australia 2010-2011, serve as a solemn testimony to that notion. Accompanying the excess runoffs, elevated amount of terrigenous materials, including nutrients for microalgae, are discharged to the coastal ocean. However, how these floods and the materials they carry affect the coastal ocean ecosystem is still poorly understood. Yangtze River (aka Changjiang), which is the largest river in the Eurasian continent, flows eastward and empties into the East China Sea. Since the early twentieth century, serious overflows of the Changjiang have occurred four times. During the two most recent ones in July 1998 and 2010, we found total primary production in the East China Sea reaching 147 × 10 3 tons carbon per day, which may support fisheries catch as high as 410 × 103 tons per month, about triple the amount during non-flooding periods based on direct field oceanographic observations. As the frequencies of floods increase world wide as a result of climate change, the flood-induced biological production could be a silver lining to the hydrological hazards and human and property losses inflicted by excessive precipitations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL13603
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jul 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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