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The shoaling of nutrient-enriched subsurface waters as a mechanism to sustain primary productivity off Central Baja California during El Niño winters
Ladah, L.B. (2003). The shoaling of nutrient-enriched subsurface waters as a mechanism to sustain primary productivity off Central Baja California during El Niño winters. J. Mar. Syst. 42(3-4): 145-152. dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0924-7963(03)00072-1
In: Journal of Marine Systems. Elsevier: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; Amsterdam. ISSN 0924-7963, more
Peer reviewed article  

Also published as
  • Ladah, L.B. (2003). The shoaling of nutrient-enriched subsurface waters as a mechanism to sustain primary productivity off Central Baja California during El Niño winters, in: Runcie, J.W. et al. (Ed.) Nutrient dynamics in coastal ecosystems - linking physical and biological processes. Journal of Marine Systems, 42(3-4): pp. 145-152. dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0924-7963(03)00072-1, more

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Document type: Conference paper

Keywords
    El Nino phenomena; Kelps; Nutrient cycles; Temperature effects; Marine

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  • Ladah, L.B.

Abstract
    Using CalCOFI data for coastal shallow stations (above 100 m depth), higher than expected nitrate concentrations were detected in near-surface high-temperature waters off of Central Baja California during some El Niño winters. Though recent data are not available for Central Baja California, past El Niño data, though limited, showed nitrate concentrations above 16 μM at temperatures above 16 °C, and nitrate concentrations between 1 and 2 μM at 19 °C, while the previously established relationship of temperature and nitrate for California Current waters predicts nitrate depletion above 14 or 15 °C. The anomalous, high temperature–high nitrate enrichment events documented in Central Baja California were detected as shallow as 9 m and as deep as 73 m, were associated with low-oxygen (between 2 and 4 ml/l) and high-salinity (between 33.8 and 34.3 psu) waters, and occurred during the winter months of an El Niño year. Using recent data for San Diego, CA, similar but weaker enrichment events were detected for the El Niño winter of 1997–1998. The periodic shoaling of a subsurface subtropical water mass of high temperature, high salinity, low oxygen and high nutrients during some El Niño winters is proposed to cause periodic enrichment and to maintain productivity during warming events in this area. Enrichment events were not detected off Ensenada, in Northern Baja California, possibly due to the amplification of the onshore flow during El Niño there, or due to the Ensenada front. The proposed mechanism of periodic enrichment of nutrient-depleted surface waters during some El Niño winters by subsurface waters from the California Undercurrent may explain the following: (1) survival of giant kelp forests at their southern limit in Central Baja California documented during past El Niño events in warm waters, (2) the rapid recovery and high carrying capacity of giant kelp documented after the mass disappearance during El Niño 1997–1998, and (3) the increase in the extent of mesotrophic chlorophyll detected in the area during the 1997–1998 and 1982–1983 El Niño events.

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