Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2004 projects
Upper ocean biogeochemistry

Observations of open ocean and coastal upwelling systems in ocean process and climate research

Project Manager/Lead Scientist: John Ryan

This project includes research and education efforts exploring two major upwelling systems—the equatorial Pacific and California Current regions. Because of their large transports of mass, heat and nutrients, upwelling systems are critical to global biogeochemical variability. Understanding the sensitivity of their processes to climatic fluctuations is important. The large-magnitude environmental signals of upwelling systems provide a solid basis for research and education in earth system science. Research efforts are focused on the California Current and will leverage long-term, ongoing environmental monitoring and ocean observing system development at MBARI. The research comprises 

  • Relationships between coastal ocean variation and remote and basin-scale forcing, 
  • Climatic shifts recently evidenced in remote and in situ observations of physical and biological variation, and
  • Airborne hyperspectral remote sensing methods for coastal ecological studies. 

The education component is translating research of both upwelling systems into a powerful, interactive learning tool, Phytopia, originally developed to teach high school and college level students about the structure, function and ecology of phytoplankton. We are augmenting Phytopia with exploration of the oceanography of these major upwelling systems.

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009