Upwelling is an oceanographic phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of dense, cooler, and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water. The nutrient-rich upwelled water stimulates the growth and reproduction of primary producers such as phytoplankton. Due to the biomass of phytoplankton and presence of cool water in these regions, upwelling zones can be identified by cool sea surface temperatures (SST) and high concentrations of chlorophyll-a.
Physical oceanography is the study of physical conditions and physical processes within the ocean, especially the motions and physical properties of ocean waters.
Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On the surface of the Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the Sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space. Winds are commonly classified by their spatial scale, their speed, the types of forces that cause them, the regions in which they occur, and their effect. The strongest observed winds on a planet in the Solar System occur on Neptune and Saturn. Winds have various aspects, an important one being its velocity ; another the density of the gas involved; another its energy content or wind energy. Wind is also a great source of transportation for seeds and small birds; with time things can travel thousands of miles in the wind.
A nutrient is a substance used by an organism to survive, grow, and reproduce. The requirement for dietary nutrient intake applies to animals, plants, fungi, and protists. Nutrients can be incorporated into cells for metabolic purposes or excreted by cells to create non-cellular structures, such as hair, scales, feathers, or exoskeletons. Some nutrients can be metabolically converted to smaller molecules in the process of releasing energy, such as for carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and fermentation products, leading to end-products of water and carbon dioxide. All organisms require water. Essential nutrients for animals are the energy sources, some of the amino acids that are combined to create proteins, a subset of fatty acids, vitamins and certain minerals. Plants require more diverse minerals absorbed through roots, plus carbon dioxide and oxygen absorbed through leaves. Fungi live on dead or living organic matter and meet nutrient needs from their host.
The increased availability of nutrients in upwelling regions results in high levels of primary production and thus fishery production. Approximately 25% of the total global marine fish catches come from five upwellings that occupy only 5% of the total ocean area.Upwellings that are driven by coastal currents or diverging open ocean have the greatest impact on nutrient-enriched waters and global fishery yields.
In ecology, primary production is the synthesis of organic compounds from atmospheric or aqueous carbon dioxide. It principally occurs through the process of photosynthesis, which uses light as its source of energy, but it also occurs through chemosynthesis, which uses the oxidation or reduction of inorganic chemical compounds as its source of energy. Almost all life on Earth relies directly or indirectly on primary production. The organisms responsible for primary production are known as primary producers or autotrophs, and form the base of the food chain. In terrestrial ecoregions, these are mainly plants, while in aquatic ecoregions algae predominate in this role. Ecologists distinguish primary production as either net or gross, the former accounting for losses to processes such as cellular respiration, the latter not.
Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats, purpose of the activities or a combination of the foregoing features". The definition often includes a combination of fish and fishers in a region, the latter fishing for similar species with similar gear types.
An ocean current is a continuous, directed movement of sea water generated by a number of forces acting upon the water, including wind, the Coriolis effect, breaking waves, cabbeling, and temperature and salinity differences. Depth contours, shoreline configurations, and interactions with other currents influence a current's direction and strength. Ocean currents are primarily horizontal water movements.
The three main drivers that work together to cause upwelling are wind, Coriolis effect, and Ekman transport. They operate differently for different types of upwelling, but the general effects are the same.In the overall process of upwelling, winds blow across the sea surface at a particular direction, which causes a wind-water interaction. As a result of the wind, the water is transported a net of 90 degrees from the direction of the wind due to Coriolis forces and Ekman transport. Ekman transport causes the surface layer of water to move at about a 45 degree angle from the direction of the wind, and the friction between that layer and the layer beneath it causes the successive layers to move in the same direction. This results in a spiral of water movement down the water column. Then, it is the Coriolis forces that dictate which way the water will move; in the Northern hemisphere, the water is transported to the right of the direction of the wind. In the Southern Hemisphere, the water is transported to the left of the wind. If this net movement of water is divergent, then upwelling of deep water occurs to replace the water that was lost.
Ekman transport, part of Ekman motion theory first investigated in 1902 by Vagn Walfrid Ekman, refers to the wind-driven net transport of the surface layer of a fluid that, due to the Coriolis effect, occurs at 90° to the direction of the surface wind. This phenomenon was first noted by Fridtjof Nansen, who recorded that ice transport appeared to occur at an angle to the wind direction during his Arctic expedition during the 1890s. The direction of transport is dependent on the hemisphere: in the northern hemisphere, transport occurs at 90° clockwise from wind direction, while in the southern hemisphere it occurs at a 90° counterclockwise.
The major upwellings in the ocean are associated with the divergence of currents that bring deeper, colder, nutrient rich waters to the surface. There are at least five types of upwelling: coastal upwelling, large-scale wind-driven upwelling in the ocean interior, upwelling associated with eddies, topographically-associated upwelling, and broad-diffusive upwelling in the ocean interior.
Coastal upwelling is the best known type of upwelling, and the most closely related to human activities as it supports some of the most productive fisheries in the world. Wind-driven currents are diverted to the right of the winds in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere due to the Coriolis effect. The result is a net movement of surface water at right angles to the direction of the wind, known as the Ekman transport (See also Ekman Spiral). When Ekman transport is occurring away from the coast, surface waters moving away are replaced by deeper, colder, and denser water.Normally, this upwelling process occurs at a rate of about 5–10 meters per day, but the rate and proximity of upwelling to the coast can be changed due to the strength and distance of the wind.
Deep waters are rich in nutrients, including nitrate, phosphate and silicic acid, themselves the result of decomposition of sinking organic matter (dead/detrital plankton) from surface waters. When brought to the surface, these nutrients are utilized by phytoplankton, along with dissolved CO2 (carbon dioxide) and light energy from the sun, to produce organic compounds, through the process of photosynthesis. Upwelling regions therefore result in very high levels of primary production (the amount of carbon fixed by phytoplankton) in comparison to other areas of the ocean. They account for about 50% of global marine productivity.High primary production propagates up the food chain because phytoplankton are at the base of the oceanic food chain.
Nitrate is a polyatomic ion with the molecular formula NO−
3 and a molecular mass of 62.0049 u. Organic compounds that contain the nitrate ester as a functional group (RONO2) are also called nitrates.
A phosphate is a chemical derivative of phosphoric acid. The phosphate ion is an inorganic chemical, the conjugate base that can form many different salts. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Of the various phosphoric acids and phosphates, organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry, and inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in agriculture and industry. At elevated temperatures in the solid state, phosphates can condense to form pyrophosphates.
Decomposition is the process by which organic substances are broken down into a more simple organic matter. The process is a part of the nutrient cycle and is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biosphere. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death. Animals, such as worms, also help decompose the organic materials. Organisms that do this are known as decomposers. Although no two organisms decompose in the same way, they all undergo the same sequential stages of decomposition. The science which studies decomposition is generally referred to as taphonomy from the Greek word taphos, meaning tomb.
The food chain follows the course of:
Zooplankton are heterotrophic plankton. Plankton are organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. The word zooplankton is derived from the Greek zoon (ζῴον), meaning "animal", and planktos (πλαγκτός), meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Individual zooplankton are usually microscopic, but some are larger and visible to the naked eye.
Coastal upwelling exists year-round in some regions, known as major coastal upwelling systems, and only in certain months of the year in other regions, known as seasonal coastal upwelling systems. Many of these upwelling systems are associated with a relatively high carbon productivity and hence are classified as Large Marine Ecosystems.
Worldwide, there are five major coastal currents associated with upwelling areas: the Canary Current (off Northwest Africa), the Benguela Current (off southern Africa), the California Current (off California and Oregon), the Humboldt Current (off Peru and Chile), and the Somali Current (off Somalia and Oman). All of these currents support major fisheries. The four major eastern boundary currents in which coastal upwelling primarily occurs are the Canary Current, Benguela Current, California Current, and Humboldt Current.The Benguela Current is the eastern boundary of the South Atlantic subtropical gyre and can be divided into a northern and southern sub-system with upwelling occurring in both areas. The subsystems are divided by an area of permanent upwelling off of Luderitz, which is the strongest upwelling zone in the world. The California Current System (CCS) is an eastern boundary current of the North Pacific that is also characterized by a north and south split. The split in this system occurs at Point Conception, California due to weak upwelling in the South and strong upwelling in the north. The Canary Current is an eastern boundary current of the North Atlantic Gyre and is also separated due to the presence of the Canary Islands. Finally, the Humboldt Current or the Peru Current flows west along the coast of South America from Peru to Chile and extends up to 1,000 kilometers offshore. These four eastern boundary currents comprise the majority of coastal upwelling zones in the oceans.
Upwelling at the equator is associated with the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which actually moves, and consequently, is often located just north or south of the equator. Easterly (westward) trade winds blow from the Northeast and Southeast and converge along the equator blowing West to form the ITCZ. Although there are no Coriolis forces present along the equator, upwelling still occurs just north and south of the equator. This results in a divergence, with denser, nutrient-rich water being upwelled from below, and results in the remarkable fact that the equatorial region in the Pacific can be detected from space as a broad line of high phytoplankton concentration.
Large-scale upwelling is also found in the Southern Ocean. Here, strong westerly (eastward) winds blow around Antarctica, driving a significant flow of water northwards. This is actually a type of coastal upwelling. Since there are no continents in a band of open latitudes between South America and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, some of this water is drawn up from great depths. In many numerical models and observational syntheses, the Southern Ocean upwelling represents the primary means by which deep dense water is brought to the surface. In some regions of Antarctica, wind-driven upwelling near the coast pulls relatively warm Circumpolar deep water onto the continental shelf, where it can enhance ice shelf melt and influence ice sheet stability.Shallower, wind-driven upwelling is also found in off the west coasts of North and South America, northwest and southwest Africa, and southwest and south Australia, all associated with oceanic subtropical high pressure circulations (see coastal upwelling above).
Some models of the ocean circulation suggest that broad-scale upwelling occurs in the tropics, as pressure driven flows converge water toward the low latitudes where it is diffusively warmed from above. The required diffusion coefficients, however, appear to be larger than are observed in the real ocean. Nonetheless, some diffusive upwelling does probably occur.
Upwelling intensity depends on wind strength and seasonal variability, as well as the vertical structure of the water, variations in the bottom bathymetry, and instabilities in the currents.
In some areas, upwelling is a seasonal event leading to periodic bursts of productivity similar to spring blooms in coastal waters. Wind-induced upwelling is generated by temperature differences between the warm, light air above the land and the cooler denser air over the sea. In temperate latitudes, the temperature contrast is greatly seasonably variable, creating periods of strong upwelling in the spring and summer, to weak or no upwelling in the winter. For example, off the coast of Oregon, there are four or five strong upwelling events separated by periods of little to no upwelling during the six-month season of upwelling. In contrast, tropical latitudes have a more constant temperature contrast, creating constant upwelling throughout the year. The Peruvian upwelling, for instance, occurs throughout most of the year, resulting in one of the world's largest marine fisheries for sardines and anchovies.
In anomalous years when the trade winds weaken or reverse, the water that is upwelled is much warmer and low in nutrients, resulting in a sharp reduction in the biomass and phytoplankton productivity. This event is known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event. The Peruvian upwelling system is particularly vulnerable to ENSO events, and can cause extreme interannual variability in productivity.
Changes in bathymetry can affect the strength of an upwelling. For example, a submarine ridge that extends out from the coast will produce more favorable upwelling conditions than neighboring regions. Upwelling typically begins at such ridges and remains strongest at the ridge even after developing in other locations.
Since upwelling regions are important sources of marine productivity, and they attract hundreds of species throughout the trophic levels, the diversity of these systems has been a focal point for marine research. While studying the trophic levels and patterns typical of upwelling regions, researchers have discovered that upwelling systems exhibit a wasp-waist richness pattern. In this type of pattern, the high and low trophic levels are well-represented by high species diversity. However, the intermediate trophic level is only represented by one or two species. This trophic layer, which consists of small, pelagic fish usually makes up about only three to four percent of the species diversity of all fish species present. The lower trophic layers are very well-represented with about 500 species of copepods, 2500 species of gastropods, and 2500 species of crustaceans on average. At the apex and near-apex trophic levels, there are usually about 100 species of marine mammals and about 50 species of marine birds. The vital intermediate trophic species however are small pelagic fish that usually feed on phytoplankton. In most upwelling systems, these species are either anchovies or sardines, and usually only one is present, although two or three species may be present occasionally. These fish are an important food source for predators, such as large pelagic fish, marine mammals, and marine birds. Although they are not at the base of the trophic pyramid, they are the vital species that connect the entire marine ecosystem and keep the productivity of upwelling zones so high
A major threat to both this crucial intermediate trophic level and the entire upwelling trophic ecosystem is the problem of commercial fishing. Since upwelling regions are the most productive and species rich areas in the world, they attract a high number of commercial fishers and fisheries. On one hand, this is another benefit of the upwelling process as it serves as a viable source of food and income for so many people and nations besides marine animals. However, just as in any ecosystem, the consequences of over-fishing from a population could be detrimental to that population and the ecosystem as a whole. In upwelling ecosystems, every species present plays a vital role in the functioning of that ecosystem. If one species is significantly depleted, that will have an effect throughout the rest of the trophic levels. For example, if a popular prey species is targeted by fisheries, fishermen may collect hundreds of thousands of individuals of this species just by casting their nets into the upwelling waters. As these fish are depleted, the food source for those who preyed on these fish is depleted. Therefore, the predators of the targeted fish will begin to die off, and there will not be as many of them to feed the predators above them. This system continues throughout the entire food chain, resulting in a possible collapse of the ecosystem. It is possible that the ecosystem may be restored over time, but not all species can recover from events such as these. Even if the species can adapt, there may be a delay in the reconstruction of this upwelling community.
The possibility of such an ecosystem collapse is the very danger of fisheries in upwelling regions. Fisheries may target a variety of different species, and therefore they are a direct threat to many species in the ecosystem, however they pose the highest threat to the intermediate pelagic fish. Since these fish form the crux of the entire trophic process of upwelling ecosystems, they are highly represented throughout the ecosystem (even if there is only one species present). Unfortunately, these fish tend to be the most popular targets of fisheries as about 64 percent of their entire catch consists of pelagic fish. Among those, the six main species that usually form the intermediate trophic layer represent over half of the catch.
Besides directly causing the collapse of the ecosystem due to their absence, this can create problems in the ecosystem through a variety of other methods as well. The animals higher in the trophic levels may not completely starve to death and die off, but the decreased food supply could still hurt the populations. If animals do not get enough food, it will decrease their reproductive viability meaning that they will not breed as often or as successfully as usual. This can lead to a decreasing population, especially in species that do not breed often under normal circumstances or become reproductively mature late in life. Another problem is that the decrease in the population of a species due to fisheries can lead to a decrease in genetic diversity, resulting in a decrease in bio-diversity of a species. If the species diversity is decreased significantly, this could cause problems for the species in an environment that is so variable and quick-changing; they may not be able to adapt, which could result in a collapse of the population or ecosystem.
Another threat to the productivity and ecosystems of upwelling regions is El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system, or more specifically El Niño events. During the normal period and La Niña events, the easterly trade winds are still strong, which continues to drive the process of upwelling. However, during El Niño events, trade winds are weaker, causing decreased upwelling in the equatorial regions as the divergence of water north and south of the equator is not as strong or as prevalent. The coastal upwelling zones diminish as well since they are wind driven systems, and the wind is no longer a very strong driving force in these areas. As a result, global upwelling drastically decreases, causing a decrease in productivity as the waters are no longer receiving nutrient-rich water. Without these nutrients, the rest of the trophic pyramid cannot be sustained, and the rich upwelling ecosystem will collapse.
Downwelling is the process of accumulation and sinking of higher density material beneath lower density material, such as cold or saline water beneath warmer or fresher water or cold air beneath warm air. It is the sinking limb of a convection cell. Upwelling is the opposite process and together these two forces are responsible in the oceans for the thermohaline circulation. The sinking of cold lithosphere at subduction zones is another example of downwelling in plate tectonics.
The Benguela Current is the broad, northward flowing ocean current that forms the eastern portion of the South Atlantic Ocean gyre. The current extends from roughly Cape Point in the south, to the position of the Angola-Benguela front in the north, at around 16°S. The current is driven by the prevailing south easterly trade winds. Inshore of the Benguela Current proper, the south easterly winds drive coastal upwelling, forming the Benguela Upwelling System. The cold, nutrient rich waters that upwell from around 200–300 m depth in turn fuel high rates of phytoplankton growth, and sustain the productive Benguela ecosystem.
The Humboldt Current, also called the Peru Current, is a cold, low-salinity ocean current that flows north along the western coast of South America. It is an eastern boundary current flowing in the direction of the equator, and extends 500–1,000 km (310–620 mi) offshore. The Humboldt Current is named after the Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. In 1846, von Humboldt reported measurements of the cold-water current in his book Cosmos.
The Kuroshio (黒潮), also known as the Black or Japan Current or the Black Stream, is a north-flowing ocean current on the west side of the North Pacific Ocean. It is similar to the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic and is part of the North Pacific ocean gyre. Like the Gulf stream, it is a strong western boundary current.
The Canary Current is a wind-driven surface current that is part of the North Atlantic Gyre. This eastern boundary current branches south from the North Atlantic Current and flows southwest about as far as Senegal where it turns west and later joins the Atlantic North Equatorial Current. The current is named after the Canary Islands. The archipelago partially blocks the flow of the Canary Current.
The California Current is a Pacific Ocean current that moves southward along the western coast of North America, beginning off southern British Columbia and ending off southern Baja California Peninsula. It is considered an Eastern boundary current due to the influence of the North American coastline on its course. It is also one of five major coastal currents affiliated with strong upwelling zones, the others being the Humboldt Current, the Canary Current, the Benguela Current, and the Somali Current. The California Current is part of the North Pacific Gyre, a large swirling current that occupies the northern basin of the Pacific.
A pycnocline is the cline or layer where the density gradient is greatest within a body of water. An ocean current is generated by the forces such as breaking waves, temperature and salinity differences, wind, Coriolis effect, and tides caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun. In addition, the physical properties in a pycnocline driven by density gradients also affect the flows and vertical profiles in the ocean. These changes can be connected to the transport of heat, salt, and nutrients through the ocean, and the pycnocline diffusion controls upwelling.
Pelagic fish live in the pelagic zone of ocean or lake waters – being neither close to the bottom nor near the shore – in contrast with demersal fish, which do live on or near the bottom, and reef fish, which are associated with coral reefs.
A lake ecosystem includes biotic (living) plants, animals and micro-organisms, as well as abiotic (nonliving) physical and chemical interactions.
This is a glossary of terms used in fisheries, fisheries management and fisheries science.
Forage fish, also called prey fish or bait fish, are small pelagic fish which are preyed on by larger predators for food. Predators include other larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Typical ocean forage fish feed near the base of the food chain on plankton, often by filter feeding. They include particularly fishes of the family Clupeidae, but also other small fish, including halfbeaks, silversides, smelt such as capelin, and the goldband fusiliers pictured on the right.
The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) is the largest contiguous ecosystem on earth. In oceanography, a subtropical gyre is a ring-like system of ocean currents rotating clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere caused by the Coriolis Effect. They generally form in large open ocean areas that lie between land masses.
The Somali Current is an ocean boundary current that runs along the coast of Somalia and Oman in the Western Indian Ocean and is analogous to the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean. This current is heavily influenced by the monsoons and is the only major upwelling system that occurs on a western boundary of an ocean. The water that is upwelled by the current merges with another upwelling system, creating one of the most productive ecosystems in the ocean.
Marine habitats are habitats that support marine life. Marine life depends in some way on the saltwater that is in the sea. A habitat is an ecological or environmental area inhabited by one or more living species. The marine environment supports many kinds of these habitats.
The Great South Australian Coastal Upwelling System is a seasonal upwelling system in the eastern Great Australian Bight, extending from Ceduna, South Australia, to Portland, Victoria, over a distance of about 800 kilometres (500 mi). Upwelling events occur in the austral summer when seasonal winds blow from the southeast. These winds blow parallel to the shoreline at certain areas of the coast, which forces coastal waters offshore via Ekman transport and draws up cold, nutrient-rich waters from the ocean floor.
Nutrient cycling in the Columbia River Basin involves the transport of nutrients through the system, as well as transformations from among dissolved, solid, and gaseous phases, depending on the element. The elements that constitute important nutrient cycles include macronutrients such as nitrogen, silicate, phosphorus, and micronutrients, which are found in trace amounts, such as iron. Their cycling within a system is controlled by many biological, chemical, and physical processes.
The Southwest Madagascar Coastal Current (SMACC) is a warm poleward ocean current flowing in the south-west of Madagascar.
Heceta Bank is a rocky bank located 55 kilometers (km) off the Oregon coast near Florence, centered on approximately 44°N, 125°W, and is roughly 29 km long and upwards of 13 km wide. Heceta Bank is an area of ecological and oceanographic importance. The unique bathymetric features and seasonal circulation within the bank provides habitat for a diversity of economically-important fish species.