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Open Access Publications from the University of California

California Coastal Upwelling Onset Variability: Cross-Shore and Bottom-Up Propagation in the Planktonic Ecosystem

  • Author(s): Chenillat, F
  • Rivière, P
  • Capet, X
  • Franks, PJS
  • Blanke, B
  • et al.

The variability of the California Current System (CCS) is primarily driven by variability in regional wind forcing. In particular, the timing of the spring transition, i.e., the onset of upwelling-favorable winds, varies considerably in the CCS with changes in the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation. Using a coupled physical-biogeochemical model, this study examines the sensitivity of the ecosystem functioning in the CCS to a lead or lag in the spring transition. An early spring transition results in an increased vertical nutrient flux at the coast, with the largest ecosystem consequences, both in relative amplitude and persistence, hundreds of kilometers offshore and at the highest trophic level of the modeled food web. A budget analysis reveals that the propagation of the perturbation offshore and up the food web is driven by remineralization and grazing/predation involving both large and small plankton species. © 2013 Chenillat et al.

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