California Current Ecosystem
Teachers at Sea Experience
Bringing Real-World Research to the Classroom

 Scientific Objectives
Welcome to the third process cruise of the CCE LTER (California Current Ecosystem, Long-Term Ecological Research) Program.  The objective this year is to understand how climate change may alter the pelagic (i.e., ocean water column) food web in a major coastal upwelling region.  Sometimes forecasting the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems requires understanding the interactions among physical, chemical and biological processes.  Research that is conducted over long time scales is essential in order for scientists to distinguish the effects of anthropogenic climate influences from the natural variability inherent in the system. 

This process cruises will primarily focus on the role of ocean thermal stratification (i.e., differences between surface and sub-surface temperatures) in modifying the vertical supply of nutrients and altering the structure of the planktonic food web.

Studying ocean plankton communities in a variety of different ocean conditions, from near-shore in the coastal upwelling region to off-shore where the water column shows very stable vertical stratification contributes to a long-term time series of data.  Most of these experiments include sampling that will occur along transect line 80 (see map).  Feel free to follow the cruise aboard the R/V Melville by tracking its course at http://mercali.ucsd.edu/rtapps/hiseasnet/realtime/index.php?ship=melville 

Some Experimental Topics Include: 

1.  water-column light, temperature, nutrients, thermocline and nutricline depths,
2.  the role of trace metals (esp. iron) in limiting phytoplankton growth rates,
3.  phytoplankton and zooplankton standing stocks,
4.  phytoplankton growth and production rates,
5.  microzooplankton and mesozooplankton grazing rates,
6.  vertical fluxes of organic matter out of the ocean’s surface layer.

Many of our shipboard experiments and process sampling are complemented by satellite remote sensing and profiling below the ocean’s surface by ocean gliders.