Biological Oceanography Group

Francisco P. Chavez, Principal Investigator

We study the biology and chemistry of the ocean in relation to global change. How climate, ocean physics, marine chemistry, and ocean ecosystems co-vary on global to meso scales, and how this affects the temporal and spatial variability in phytoplankton biomass, composition and production.

The primary questions we seek to answer are:

  1. What are the mean and fluctuating components of phytoplankton primary production, biomass and species composition on time scales ranging from days to years.
  2. What are the physical, chemical and biological processes responsible for the mean and fluctuating components.
  3. What controls primary production and phytoplankton growth rates.
  4. What is the role of meso and macrozooplankton in coastal upwelling systems.
  5. What is the fate of primary production?
  6. What are the biological consequences of El Niño.

Focusing on the upper water column, we use instrumentation and systems for long-term ocean observing, such as satellite remote sensing, instrumented moorings and drifters, autonomous vehicles, and ships.

Krill hotspots in the California Current

A method combining in situ nitrate concentrations and satellite winds provides estimates of nitrate supply in coastal upwelling regions (available for download).

Glider and mooring data plots

Moorings float above the seafloor and can constantly take a variety of measurements, giving researchers a clear picture of oceanographic conditions.
depth vs time nitrate (uM) contour of bottle data from the CTD from the MBTS cruises

Monterey Bay Time Series Data

Summary graphs from the Monterey Bay Time Series (MBTS) CTD cruises. Includes physical, chemical, and biological samples. Updated quarterly.

Global modes of sea surface temperature

A century-long EOF analysis of global sea surface temperature (SST) identified modes associated with regional climate phenomena. Plots and time series are updated monthly.

M1 Mooring Summary Data

Climatology graphs of sea temperature (0m, 60m 100m), ISUS nitrate, HS Chlorophyll, and upwelling indices from 1990 to the present. Updated daily.

Mooring data

A brief survey of current data from the M1 mooring in graphical representation. Updated daily.



Upper-ocean systems
Acoustical ocean ecology
Acoustic instruments
Acoustic fingerprinting
Acoustic community ecology
Acoustics in the news
Biological oceanography
Global modes of sea surface temperature
Krill hotspots in the California Current
Nitrate supply estimates in upwelling systems
Chemical sensors
Chemical data
Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory in Elkhorn Slough
Listing of floats
SOCCOM float visualization
Periodic table of elements in the ocean
Biogeochemical-Argo Report
Profiling float
Interdisciplinary field experiments
Ecogenomic Sensing
Genomic sensors
Field experiments
Harmful algal blooms (HABs)
Water quality
Environmental Sample Processor (ESP)
ESP Web Portal
In the news
Ocean observing system
Midwater research
Midwater ecology
Deep-sea squids and octopuses
Food web dynamics
Midwater time series
Respiration studies
Zooplankton biodiversity
Seafloor processes
Revealing the secrets of Sur Ridge
Exploring Sur Ridge’s coral gardens
Life at Sur Ridge
Mapping Sur Ridge
Biology and ecology
Effects of humans
Ocean acidification, warming, deoxygenation
Lost shipping container study
Effects of upwelling
Faunal patterns
Previous research
Technology development
High-CO2 / low-pH ocean
Benthic respirometer system
Climate change in extreme environments
Station M: A long-term observatory on the abyssal seafloor
Station M long-term time series
Monitoring instrumentation suite
Sargasso Sea research
Antarctic research
Geological changes
Arctic Shelf Edge
Continental Margins and Canyon Dynamics
Coordinated Canyon Experiment
CCE instruments
CCE repeat mapping data
Monterey Canyon: A Grand Canyon beneath the waves
Submarine volcanoes
Mid-ocean ridges
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Hydrothermal systems
Back arc spreading ridges
Near-ridge seamounts
Continental margin seamounts
Non-hot-spot linear chains
Eclectic seamounts topics
Margin processes
Hydrates and seeps
California borderland
Hot spot research
Hot-spot plumes
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Volcanic hazards
Hydrothermal systems
Flexural arch
Coral reefs
ReefGrow software
Eclectic topics
Submarine volcanism cruises
Volcanoes resources
Areas of study
Bioluminescence: Living light in the deep sea
Microscopic biology research
Open ocean biology research
Seafloor biology research
Automated chemical sensors
Methane in the seafloor
Volcanoes and seamounts
Hydrothermal vents
Methane in the seafloor
Submarine canyons
Earthquakes and landslides
Ocean acidification
Physical oceanography and climate change
Ocean circulation and algal blooms
Ocean cycles and climate change
Past research
Molecular ecology
Molecular systematics
SIMZ Project
Bone-eating worms
Gene flow and dispersal
Molecular-ecology expeditions
Ocean chemistry of greenhouse gases
Emerging science of a high CO2/low pH ocean