Inter-annual variability of poleward oceanic currents off Monterey Bay

Carolina Fayos
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

Friday, June 4, 1999
12:00 Noon—Pacific Forum

Recent oceanographic instrumentation developments allow oceanographers to observe closely the causes and consequences of El Niņo Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The 1997-1998 ENSO event was the first in history that was monitored from its beginning to its end with new advanced instrumentation. Variability of poleward flow and mixed layer characteristics during ENSO versus non-ENSO years is important due to its adverse effects on oceanic productivity and further effects on the economy of Monterey Bay. Time series of monthly and seasonal averaged data were computed to analyze and observe variability between ENSO and non-ENSO years. During ENSO years the following features were observed: a deeper mixed layer, elevated temperature and salinity, along-shore currents with a slightly weakened poleward flow, intensified southward flow throughout the year, and slightly weakened northerly winds. These factors affected the pattern of productivity and trophic level's development from phytoplankton to mammals. The significance of the poleward flow and mixed layer characteristics makes this research valuable to predict fluctuations in future ENSO years.

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Last updated: December 19, 2000