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Delayed upwelling alters nearshore coastal ocean ecosystems in the northern California current Public Deposited

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  • Wind-driven coastal ocean upwelling supplies nutrients to the euphotic zone near the coast. Nutrients fuel the growth of phytoplankton, the base of a very productive coastal marine ecosystem [Pauly D, Christensen V (1995) Nature 374:255–257]. Because nutrient supply and phytoplankton biomass in shelf waters are highly sensitive to variation in upwelling-driven circulation, shifts in the timing and strength of upwelling may alter basic nutrient and carbon fluxes through marine food webs. We show how a 1-month delay in the 2005 spring transition to upwelling-favorable wind stress in the northern California Current Large Marine Ecosystem resulted in numerous anomalies: warm water, low nutrient levels, low primary productivity, and an unprecedented low recruitment of rocky intertidal organisms. The delay was associated with 20- to 40-day wind oscillations accompanying a southward shift of the jet stream. Early in the upwelling season (May–July) off Oregon, the cumulative upwelling-favorable wind stress was the lowest in 20 years, nearshore surface waters averaged 2°C warmer than normal, surf-zone chlorophyll-a and nutrients were 50% and 30% less than normal, respectively, and densities of recruits of mussels and barnacles were reduced by 83% and 66%, respectively. Delayed early-season upwelling and stronger late-season upwelling are consistent with predictions of the influence of global warming on coastal upwelling regions.
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  • Barth, J. A., Menge, B. A., Lubchenco, J., Chan, F., Bane, J. M., Kirincich, A. R., McManus, M. A., Nielsen, K. J., Pierce, S. D., & Washburn, L. (2007, March 6). Delayed upwelling alters nearshore coastal ocean ecosystems in the northern California current [Electronic version]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(10), 3719-3724. doi:10.1073/pnas.0700462104
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  • The Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans is supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Additional support for J.A.B. was provided by National Science Foundation Grants OCE-9907854, OCE- 0435619, OCE-0453071, and OCE-0527168. Additional support for B.A.M. and J.L. was provided by the A. W. Mellon Foundation, the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation, and the Robert and Betty Lundeen Marine Biology Fund. This paper is Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans contribution 250 and contribution number 516 of the U.S. Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics program, jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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