While the seasonality of wind-driven coastal upwelling in eastern boundary upwelling systems has long been established, many studies describe two distinct seasons (upwelling and non-upwelling), a generalized framework that does not capture details relevant to marine ecosystems. In this contribution, we present a more detailed description of the annual cycle and upwelling seasonality for an understudied location along the central California coast. Using both the mean monthly upwelling favorable wind stress and the monthly standard deviation, we define the following seasons (contiguous months) and a transitional period (non-contiguous months): “Winter Storms” season (Dec-Jan-Feb), “Upwelling Transition” period (Mar and Jun), “Peak Upwelling” season (Apr-May), “Upwelling Relaxation” season (Jul-Aug-Sep), and “Winter Transition” season (Oct-Nov). In order to describe the oceanic response to this upwelling wind seasonality, we take advantage of nearly a decade of full water-column measurements of temperature and chlorophyll made using an automated profiling system at the end of the California Polytechnic State University Pier in San Luis Obispo Bay, a small (~ 2 km wide near study site) and shallow (~ 10 m average bay depth) coastal embayment. Variability and average-year patterns are described inside the bay during the various upwelling seasons. Moreover, the role of the local coastline orientation and topography on bay dynamics is also assessed using long-term measurements collected outside of the bay. The formation of a seasonally variable upwelling shadow system and potential nearshore retention zone is discussed. The observations presented provide a framework on which to study interannual changes to the average-year seasonal cycle, assess the contribution of higher-frequency features to nearshore variability, and better predict dynamically and ecologically important events.



Number of Pages


Included in

Physics Commons



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/phy_fac/545