Selected CCE Research Findings


Mesoscale features affect carbon cycling: CCE scientists have documented that dynamic features in ocean circulation, such as eddies, filaments, and fronts, can have important impacts on phytoplankton growth, zooplankton biomass and production, and the vertical flux of carbon out of surface waters. The frequency of such features appears to be changing over the long term.  This work is an ongoing focus of research efforts at our site.

New region of iron limitation: Iron supply in the CCE region influences phytoplankton growth and species composition below the surface ocean at the subsurface chlorophyll maximum layer (SCML), a widespread feature in spring and summer. Time series data from the CalCOFI program have revealed increasing frequency of iron limitation at SCMLs in the California Current system, in line with regional climate change indicators. These results are relevant to upwelling systems worldwide.

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Ecosystem changes in response to El Niño and Warm Anomalies: CCE investigators published a cluster of 5 papers in Deep-Sea Research I (vol. 140, Oct. 2018) that analyze ecosystem responses to two successive disturbances of the CCE region:  the Warm “Blob” of 2014-15 followed by the El Niño of 2015-16.  These studies are part of a continuing effort to build the scientific understanding to forecast the future responses of the California Current System to climate change and climate variability.

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Phaeodarians play an important role in marine biogeochemical cycles: Studies conducted on CCE cruises using cutting-edge in situ optical instruments have documented the previously underestimated importance of giant phaeodarians in the movement of carbon and nutrients through the oceans. These unicellular zooplankton form delicate siliceous skeletons that sink from the lighted upper waters into the darker “twilight” zone, carrying both organic carbon and silica, a limiting nutrient for primary producers.

Zooglider enables autonomous in situ analysis of zooplankton: The Zooglider represents a new class of autonomous underwater vehicle technology developed at SIO via a collaboration between the Instrument Development Group and CCE researchers. Zooglider is a specially modified Spray glider that is able to measure zooplankton in situ using both optical and acoustic sensors, on remotely-guided studies of up to 50 days duration.  Zooglider is being used in support of CCE analysis of changes in the pelagic food web.

Read more:
Gaskell, D. E., Ohman, M. D., and Hull, P. M., Zooglider-based measurements of planktonic foraminifera in the California Currrent System. Journal of Foraminiferal Research49, 390-404, 2019. CCE LTER Contribution #0457