© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. A changing climate is altering many ocean properties that consequently will modify marine productivity. Previous phytoplankton manipulation studies have focused on individual or subsets of these properties. Here, we investigate the cumulative effects of multi-faceted change on a subantarctic diatom Pseudonitzschia multiseries by concurrently manipulating five stressors (light/nutrients/CO 2 /temperature/iron) that primarily control its physiology, and explore underlying reasons for altered physiological performance. Climate change enhances diatom growth mainly owing to warming and iron enrichment, and both properties decrease cellular nutrient quotas, partially offsetting any effects of decreased nutrient supply by 2100. Physiological diagnostics and comparative proteomics demonstrate the joint importance of individual and interactive effects of temperature and iron, and reveal biased future predictions from experimental outcomes when only a subset of multi-stressors is considered. Our findings for subantarctic waters illustrate how composite regional studies are needed to provide accurate global projections of future shifts in productivity and distinguish underlying species-specific physiological mechanisms.