Henson, Stephanie A. and Thomas, Andrew C.
Interannual variability in timing of bloom initiation in the California Current System.
Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, (C8), . (doi:10.1029/2006JC003960).
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In the California Current System the spring transition from poleward to equatorward alongshore wind stress heralds the beginning of upwelling-favorable conditions. The phytoplankton response to this transition is investigated using 8 years (1998–2005) of daily, 4-km resolution, Sea-viewing Wide Field of view Sensor (SeaWiFS) chlorophyll a concentration data. Cluster analysis of the chlorophyll a time series at each location is used to separate the inshore upwelling region from offshore and oligotrophic areas. An objective method for estimating the timing of bloom initiation is used to construct a map of the mean bloom start date. Interannual variability in bloom timing and magnitude is investigated in four regions: 45°N–50°N, 40°N–45°N, 35°N–40°N and 20°N–35°N. Daily satellite derived wind data (QuikSCAT) allow the timing of the first episode of persistently upwelling favorable winds to be estimated. Bloom initiation generally coincides with the onset of upwelling winds (±15 days). South of ?35°N, where winds are southward year-round, the timing of increased chlorophyll concentration corresponds closely to timing of the seasonal increase in upwelling intensity. A 1-D model and satellite derived photosynthetically available radiation data are used to estimate time series of depth-averaged irradiance. In the far north of the region (>46°N) light is shown to limit phytoplankton growth in early spring. In 2005 the spring bloom in the northern regions (>35°N) had a “false start”. A sharp increase in chl a in February quickly receded, and a sustained increase in biomass was delayed until July. We hypothesize that this resulted in a mismatch in timing of food availability to higher trophic levels.
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