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

View Issue TOC
Volume 26, No. 3
Pages 26 - 33


Modeling Physical-Biological Responses to Climate Change in the California Current System

By Peter J.S. Franks , Emanuele Di Lorenzo, Nicole L. Goebel , Fanny Chenillat, Pascal Rivière , Christopher A. Edwards, and Arthur J. Miller  
Jump to
Article Abstract Citation References Copyright & Usage
Article Abstract

Understanding the effects of climate change on planktonic ecosystems requires the synthesis of large, diverse data sets of variables that often interact in nonlinear ways. One fruitful approach to this synthesis is the use of numerical models. Here, we describe how models have been used to gain understanding of the physical-biological couplings leading to decadal changes in the southern California Current ecosystem. Moving from basin scales to local scales, we show how atmospheric, physical oceanographic, and biological dynamics interact to create long-term fluctuations in the dynamics of the California Current ecosystem.


Franks, P.J.S., E. Di Lorenzo, N.L. Goebel, F. Chenillat, P. Rivière, C.A. Edwards, and A.J. Miller. 2013. Modeling physical-biological responses to climate change in the California Current System. Oceanography 26(3):26–33, https://doi.org/​10.5670/oceanog.2013.42.


Ashok, K., and T. Yamagata. 2009. Climate change: The El Niño with a difference. Nature 461:481–484, https://doi.org/​10.1038/461481a.

Botsford, L.W., C.A. Lawrence, E.P. Dever, A. Hastings, and J. Largier. 2006. Effects of variable winds on biological productivity on continental shelves in coastal upwelling systems. Deep-Sea Research Part II 53:3,116–3,140, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2006.07.011.

Capet, X., F. Colas, J.C. McWilliams, P. Penven, and P. Marchesiello. 2008. Eddies in eastern boundary subtropical upwelling systems. Pp. 131–147 in Ocean Modeling in an Eddying Regime. Geophysical Monograph Series, vol. 177, M.W. Hecht and H. Hasumi, eds, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, https://doi.org/10.1029/177GM10.

Chenillat, F., P. Rivière, X. Capet, E. Di Lorenzo, and B. Blanke. 2012. North Pacific Gyre Oscillation modulates seasonal timing and ecosystem functioning in the California Current upwelling system. Geophysical Research Letters 39, L01606, https://doi.org/​10.1029/2011GL049966.

Chenillat, F., P. Rivière, X. Capet, P.J.S. Franks, and B. Blanke. 2013. California coastal upwelling onset variability: Cross-shore and bottom-up propagation in the planktonic ecosystem. PLoS ONE 8:e62281, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0062281.

Chhak, K., and E. Di Lorenzo. 2007. Decadal variations in the California Current upwelling cells. Geophysical Research Letters 34, L14604, https://doi.org/10.1029/2007GL030203.

Chhak, K.C., E. Di Lorenzo, N. Schneider, and P.F. Cummins. 2009. Forcing of low-frequency ocean variability in the Northeast Pacific. Journal of Climate 22:1,255–1,276, https://doi.org/10.1175/2008JCLI2639.1.

Combes, V., F. Chenillat, E. Di Lorenzo, P. Rivière, M.D. Ohman, and S.J. Bograd. 2013. Cross-shore transport variability in the California Current: Ekman upwelling vs. eddy dynamics. Progress in Oceanography 109:78–89, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2012.10.001.

Di Lorenzo, E., K.M. Cobb, J.C. Furtado, N. Schneider, B.T. Anderson, A. Bracco, M.A. Alexander, and D.J. Vimont. 2010. Central Pacific El Niño and decadal climate change in the North Pacific Ocean. Nature Geoscience 3:762–765, https://doi.org/​10.1038/ngeo984.

Di Lorenzo, E., J. Fiechter, N. Schneider, A. Bracco, A.J. Miller, P.J.S. Franks, S.J. Bograd, A.M. Moore, A.C. Thomas, W. Crawford, and others. 2009. Nutrient and salinity decadal variations in the central and eastern North Pacific. Geophysical Research Letters 36, L14601, https://doi.org/10.1029/2009GL038261.

Di Lorenzo, E., N. Schneider, K.M. Cobb, P.J.S. Franks, K. Chhak, A.J. Miller, J.C. McWilliams, S.J. Bograd, H. Arango, E. Curchitser, and others. 2008. North Pacific Gyre Oscillation links ocean climate and ecosystem change. Geophysical Research Letters 35, L08607, https://doi.org/​10.1029/2007GL032838.

Follows, M.J., S. Dutkiewicz, S. Grant, and S.W. Chisholm. 2007. Emergent biogeography of microbial communities in a model ocean. Science 315:1,843–1,846, https://doi.org/​10.1126/science.1138544.

Franks, P.J.S. 1992. Phytoplankton blooms at fronts: Patterns, scales and physical forcing mechanisms. Reviews in Aquatic Sciences 6:121–137.

Franks, P.J.S. 2009. Planktonic ecosystem models: Perplexing parameterizations and a failure to fail. Journal of Plankton Research 31:1,299–1,306, https://doi.org/​10.1093/plankt/fbp069

Goebel, N., C.A. Edwards, M.J. Follows, and J.P. Zehr. In press. Modeled diversity effects on microbial ecosystem functions of primary production, nutrient uptake, and remineralization. Ecology, https://doi.org/10.1890/13-0421.1.

Goebel, N.L., C.A. Edwards, J.P. Zehr, and M. Follows. 2010. An emergent community ecosystem model applied to the California Current System. Journal of Marine Systems 83:221–241, https://doi.org/10.1016/​j.jmarsys.2010.05.002.

Goebel, N.L., C.A. Edwards, J.P. Zehr, M.J. Follows, and S.G. Morgan. 2012. Modeled phytoplankton diversity and productivity in the California Current System. Ecological Modelling, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2012.11.008.

Gruber, N., Z. Lachkar, H. Frenzel, P. Marchesiello, M. Münnich, J.C. McWilliams, T. Nagai, and G.-K. Plattner. 2011. Eddy-induced reduction of biological production in eastern boundary upwelling systems. Nature Geoscience 4:787–792, https://doi.org/​10.1038/ngeo1273.

Haidvogel, D.B., H. Arango, W.P. Budgell, B.D. Cornuelle, E. Curchitser, E. Di Lorenzo, K. Fennel, W.R. Geyer, A.J. Hermann, L. Lanerolle, and others. 2008. Ocean forecasting in terrain-following coordinates: Formulation and skill assessment of the Regional Ocean Modeling System. Journal of Computational Physics 227:3,595–3,624, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcp.2007.06.016.

Kahru, M., E. Di Lorenzo, M. Manzano-Sarabia, and B.G. Mitchell. 2012. Spatial and temporal statistics of sea surface temperature and chlorophyll fronts in the California Current. Journal of Plankton Research 34:749–760, https://doi.org/10.1093/plankt/fbs010.

Kishi, M.J., M. Kashiwai, D.M. Ware, B.A. Megrey, D.L. Eslinger, F.E. Werner, M. Noguchi-Aita, T. Azumay, M. Fujii, S. Hashimoto, and others. 2007. NEMURO—A lower trophic level model for the North Pacific marine ecosystem. Ecological Modelling 202:12–25, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2006.08.021.

Kug, J.S., F.F. Jin, and S.I. An. 2009. Two types of El Niño events: Cold tongue El Niño and warm pool El Niño. Journal of Climate 22:1,499–1,515, https://doi.org/10.1175/2008JCLI2624.1.

Landry, M.R., M.D. Ohman, R. Goericke, M.R. Stukel, K. Barbeau, R. Bundy, and M. Kahru. 2012. Pelagic community response to a deep-water front in the California Current ecosystem: Overview of the A-Front Study. Journal of Plankton Research 34:739–748, https://doi.org/10.1093/plankt/fbs025.

Landry, M.R., M.D. Ohman, R. Goericke, M.R. Stukel, and K. Tsyrklevich. 2009. Lagrangian studies of phytoplankton growth and grazing relationships in a coastal upwelling ecosystem off Southern California. Progress in Oceanography 83:208–216, https://doi.org/​10.1016/j.pocean.2009.07.026.

Li, Q.P., P.J.S. Franks, and M.R. Landry. 2011. Microzooplankton grazing dynamics: Parameterizing grazing models with dilution experiment data from the California Current Ecosystem. Marine Ecology Progress Series 438:59–69, https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09320.

Li, Q.P., P.J.S. Franks, M.R. Landry, R. Goericke, and A.G. Taylor. 2010. Modeling phytoplankton growth rates and chlorophyll to carbon ratios in California coastal and pelagic waters. Journal of Geophysical Research 115, G04003, https://doi.org/10.1029/2009JG001111

Li, Q.P., P.J.S. Franks, M.D. Ohman, and M.R. Landry. 2012. Enhanced nitrate fluxes and biological processes at a frontal zone in the Southern California Current system. Journal of Plankton Research 34:790–801, https://doi.org/10.1093/plankt/fbs006.

Mackas, D.L., W.T. Peterson, M.D. Ohman, and B.E. Lavaniegos. 2006. Zooplankton anomalies in the California Current system before and during the warm ocean conditions of 2005. Geophysical Research Letters 33, L22S07, https://doi.org/10.1029/2006GL027930.

Shchepetkin, A.F., and J.C. McWilliams. 2005. The regional oceanic modeling system (ROMS): A split-explicit, free-surface, topography-following-coordinate oceanic model. Ocean Modelling 9:347–404, https://doi.org/​10.1016/j.ocemod.2004.08.002.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.