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Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans

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Abstract/ Summary

Physical forcing and biological response within the California Current System (CCS) are highly variable over a wide range of scales. Satellite remote sensing offers the only feasible means of quantifying this variability over the full extent of the CCS. Using six years (1997-2003) of daily SST and chlorophyll imagery, we map the spatial dependence of dominant temporal variability at resolutions sufficient to identify recurrent mesoscale circulation and local pattern associated with coastal topography. Here we describe mean seasonal cycles and interannual variation; intraseasonal variability is left to a companion paper ( K. R. Legaard and A. C. Thomas, manuscript in preparation, 2006). Coastal upwelling dictates seasonality along north-central California, where weak cycles of SST fluctuate between spring minima and late summer maxima and chlorophyll peaks in early summer. Off northern California, chlorophyll maxima are bounded offshore by the seasonally recurrent upwelling jet. Seasonal cycles differ across higher latitudes and in the midlatitude Southern California Bight, where upwelling winds are less vigorous and/or persistent. Seasonality along south-central Baja is strongly affected by processes other than upwelling, despite year-round upwelling-favorable winds. Interannual variation is generally dominated by El Nino and La Nina conditions. Interannual SST variance is greatest along south-central Baja, although interannual variability constitutes a greater fraction of total variance inshore along southern Oregon and much of California. Patterns of interannual chlorophyll variance are consistent with dominant forcing through the widespread depression and elevation of the nutricline during El Nino and La Nina, respectively. Interannual variability constitutes a greater fraction of total chlorophyll variance offshore.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Legaard KR, Thomas AC. Spatial Patterns in Seasonal and Interannual Variability of Chlorophyll and Sea Surface Temperature in the California Current. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 2006;111: C06032. To view the published open abstract, go to and enter the DOI.

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Copyright 2006 American Geophysical Union.




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