Impacts of the 2015-2016 El Nino on the California Current System: Early assessment and comparison to past events

TitleImpacts of the 2015-2016 El Nino on the California Current System: Early assessment and comparison to past events
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsJacox M.G, Hazen E.L, Zaba K.D, Rudnick D.L, Edwards C.A, Moore A.M, Bograd SJ
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume43
Pagination7072-7080
Date Published2016/07
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0094-8276
Accession NumberWOS:000380901600048
Keywords1997-1998; america; anomalies; coast; configuration; El Nino; enso; evolution; glider; northeast pacific; reanalysis; ROMS; surface chlorophyll; temperature; the Blob; underwater gliders
Abstract

The 2015-2016 El Nino is by some measures one of the strongest on record, comparable to the 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 events that triggered widespread ecosystem change in the northeast Pacific. Here we describe impacts of the 2015-2016 El Nino on the California Current System (CCS) and place them in historical context using a regional ocean model and underwater glider observations. Impacts on the physical state of the CCS are weaker than expected based on tropical sea surface temperature anomalies; temperature and density fields reflect persistence of multiyear anomalies more than El Nino. While we anticipate El Nino-related impacts on spring/summer 2016 productivity to be similarly weak, their combination with preexisting anomalous conditions likely means continued low phytoplankton biomass. This study highlights the need for regional metrics of El Nino's effects and demonstrates the potential to assess these effects before the upwelling season, when altered ecosystem functioning is most apparent.

DOI10.1002/2016gl069716
Student Publication: 
No