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WEST: A northern California study of the role of wind-driven transport in the productivity of coastal plankton communities

  • Author(s): Largier, John L
  • Lawrence, C A
  • Roughan, M
  • Kaplan, D M
  • Dever, E P
  • Dorman, C E
  • Kudela, R M
  • Bollens, S M
  • Wilkerson, F P
  • Dugdale, R C
  • Botsford, L W
  • Garfieldg, N
  • Cervantes, B K
  • Koracin, D
  • et al.

The "Wind Events and Shelf Transport" (WEST) program was an interdisciplinary study of coastal upwelling off northern California in 2000-03. WEST was comprised of modeling and field observations. The primary goal of WEST was to better describe and understand the competing influences of wind forcing on planktonic productivity in coastal waters. While increased upwelling-favorable winds lead to increased nutrient supply, they also result in reduced light exposure due to deeper surface mixed layers and increased advective loss of plankton from coastal waters. The key to understanding high levels of productivity, amidst these competing responses to wind forcing, is the temporal and spatial structure of upwelling. Temporal fluctuations and spatial patterns allow strong upwelling that favors nutrient delivery to be juxtaposed with less energetic conditions that favor stratification and plankton blooms. Observations of winds, ocean circulation, nutrients, phytoplankton and zooplankton off Bodega Bay and Point Reyes (38 degrees N) were combined with model studies of winds, circulation and productivity. This overview of the WEST program provides an introduction to the WEST special issue of Deep-Sea Research, including the motivation for WEST, a summary of study components, an integrative synthesis of major research results to-date, and background on conditions during field studies in May-June 2001 (the upwelling period on which this special issue is focused). (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All. rights reserved.

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