Selected CCE Research Findings

Food Web Base

CCE scientists developed a model that accurately predicts how the growth of phytoplankton at the base of the ocean’s food web varies with depth and from inshore to offshore. These results help scientists forecast how physical and chemical changes affect marine fisheries and biodiversity.


Iron Importance

Scientists at CCE have determined that supply of the trace element iron can limit phytoplankton growth in the southern California Current System, in both surface and subsurface phytoplankton communities. This finding has implications for ecosystem productivity and associated services, including fisheries and carbon sequestration in deep ocean waters.


Marine Ecosystem Services

CCE research uncovered how long-term climate changes markedly affect the California Current System, among the world’s most economically important ocean regions. Fish habitat and other important ecosystem services are affected by reduced oxygen levels, warmer surface waters, diminished zooplankton populations, and decreased water transparency.


Upwelling Matters

CCE scientists discovered two distinct ways in which cool, nutrient-rich water moves to the ocean surface (upwells) to create habitat for different sizes of zooplankton. Fish populations respond to these size differences — the Pacific sardine prefers smaller zooplankton and the northern anchovy prefers larger — with important implications for commercial fisheries.


New Climate Pattern

Long-term observations allowed CCE scientists to define a new climate pattern called the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO), which links physical ocean changes, such as fluctuations in salinity and nutrients, with biodiversity and ecosystem processes in the eastern North Pacific. This climate pattern may affect marine ecosystems around the world.