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Upper ocean biogeochemistry

Studies of biogeochemical dynamics of upwelling systems using drifters
Project Manager: Francisco Chavez
Lead Scientists: Francisco Chavez/Gernot Friederich


Coastal upwelling systems are considered to be the most productive ocean ecosystems in terms of living resources. The Peru-Chile coastal upwelling ecosystem represents the most productive of the eastern boundary upwelling regions, supporting the world’s largest single-species fishery. The system is characterized by strong latitudinal variations in upwelling and productivity. 

Francisco Chavez and his team will explore the biogeochemical and ecological dynamics of the ocean off the west coast of North and South America, using surface drifters equipped with sensors to measure the difference in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (delta pCO2) between ocean and atmosphere. They will measure air and sea surface pCO2 from ships and deploy additional pCO2 sensors on moorings. These measurements will be compared with estimates of new production from models and satellite data. The long-lived drifters (~1 year) will eventually enter the subtropical gyres of the North and South Pacific, collecting data from poorly sampled areas. The work will be a collaborative effort between MBARI, CICESE in Mexico, the Peruvian fishery institute (IMARPE) and the Universidad de Concepcion in Chile.