Northern California Transport Study

Project Description
The "Wind Events and Shelf Transport" (WEST) program was an interdisciplinary study of coastal upwelling off northern California in 2000-03. WEST was comprised of modeling and field observations. The primary goal of WEST was to better describe and understand the competing influences of wind forcing on planktonic productivity in coastal waters. While increased upwelling-favorable winds lead to increased nutrient supply, they also result in reduced light exposure due to deeper surface mixed layers and increased advective loss of plankton from coastal waters. The key to understanding high levels of productivity, amidst these competing responses to wind forcing, is the temporal and spatial structure of upwelling. Temporal fluctuations and spatial patterns allow strong upwelling that favors nutrient delivery to be juxtaposed with less energetic conditions that favor stratification and plankton blooms.