Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Coastal Ocean Processes Group

Synoptic physical & biological structure mapped by autonomous underwater vehicle through a frontal zone of the northern Monterey Bay shelf, August 31, 2000

The coastal ocean processes group applies diverse methods of in situ and remote sensing to study complex, rapidly evolving processes in the Monterey Bay region. Primary observations include 1) synoptic mapping of process signatures (example shown above), 2) remote sensing of physical and bio-optical properties at multiple scales, and 3) moored observations in the "path" of processes. For example, one study enabled detailed description of the birth of a red tide bloom using sensing from a towed system augmented with sensing of the particle size spectrum, moorings, aircraft, and three satellite sensors. Because of this breadth and extent of sensing we were able to clearly see a dramatic change in the local environment forced by mesoscale circulation, quantify a physical change favoring red tide bloom development, observe the transition from a bay with diverse phytoplankton to one dominated by two red tide dinoflagellate species, and map red tide bloom patches onto convergence zones of internal waves.

This research is being conducted through collaborative efforts of multiple science and engineering groups at MBARI, including the biogeochemistry group and the microbial oceanography group.

Last updated: Oct. 17, 2013