Short-Period Climatic Fluctuations: Effects on Diatom Biomass

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Science  26 Nov 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4268, pp. 942-944
DOI: 10.1126/science.194.4268.942


An analysis of the weekly averages of diatom biomass measured near the coast of Southern California (32°50'N, 117°10'W) during the period from 1928 through 1939 indicates that three major blooms account for 85 percent of each year's diatom biomass. The average duration of a single bloom is 5.5 weeks. The diatom blooms coincide with upwelling, but their individual characteristics depend on the detailed features of the circulation patterns of the water masses. That is, if upwelling takes place after a large influx of subtropical or even tropical water because of the slackening California Current, the resulting diatom blooms are smaller by several orders of magnitude than those observed when the flow of the current is strong. This influx of subtropical water into the region is reflected in positive anomalies of temperature, salinity, and sea level.