Influence of El Niño 1997–1998
on the pelagic ecosystem off California: 
Remote-sensed analysis

Nikolay P. Nezlin
P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences

Wednesday, June 20, 2001
12:00 Noon–Pacific Forum

The general features of the influence of El Niño event 1997–1998 were evaluated off California via multi-disciplinary analysis of remote-sensed data. Seasonal summer minima of remote-sensed chlorophyll concentration were observed in all zones of the region under study (CZCS and SeaWiFS), suggesting that nutrient limitation is regulated by strength and depth of seasonal pycnocline. The main factors stimulating the growth of phytoplankton biomass were the intensity of coastal upwelling and wind stress. The El Niño event occurred during the second half of 1997 and the first half of 1998. The remote-sensed phytoplankton biomass significantly decreased during the summer chlorophyll minimum, preceding the collapse of the squid fishery. Sea surface temperature and sea surface height revealed evident signature of El Niño without significant changes of wind pattern. All these variations during the El Niño event were consistent with deepening of pycnocline, resulting from Kelvin waves propagating northward along the coast.

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