Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 26 Issue 03

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Volume 26, No. 3
Pages 34 - 43


Coastal Transport Processes Affecting Inner-Shelf Ecosystems in the California Current System

Libe Washburn Erika McPhee-Shaw
Article Abstract

Wind-driven upwelling is weak and intermittent in the Southern California Bight, a region sheltered from the strong, prevailing equatorward winds typical of most of the California Current System. Thus, other physical transport processes than wind-driven upwelling supply subsidies of nutrients, biogenic particles, and other water-borne materials to support the highly productive temperate reef ecosystems of the Southern California Bight, including forests of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) and a broad diversity of reef organisms. This article focuses on results from the Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research project related to the various transport processes important for maintaining nearshore ecosystems in the California Current System. It reviews along-shelf and cross-shelf flow mechanisms that deliver these subsidies, discusses how these mechanisms interact, and examines some of the biological patterns that result from these transport processes.


Washburn, L., and E. McPhee-Shaw. 2013. Coastal transport processes affecting inner-shelf ecosystems in the California Current System. Oceanography 26(3):34–43, https://doi.org/​10.5670/oceanog.2013.43.


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