To investigate the connectivity between central California marine protected areas (MPAs), back-projections were calculated using the network of high-frequency (HF) radar ocean surface current mapping stations operated along the California coast by the member institutions of the Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program with funding provided by California voters through Propositions 40 & 50 and administered by the State Coastal Conservancy. Trajectories of 1 km resolution grids of water particles were back-projected from ten MPAs each hour, out through 40 days in the past, from each day in 2008, producing a map of where surface waters travel over a 40-day period to reach the MPAs - and visualizations of the length of time the waters travel along these paths. By comparing the travel times of those back-projected track-points that crossed between MPA regions, the connection time between MPAs along the State's central coast was assessed. Repeating these calculations resulted in a connectivity matrix between the MPAs in the region, and may be useful for assessing connectivity for the important invertebrate and fish larvae that are restricted to the surface ocean during a fraction of their lifecycle.



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