Effects of interannual events (1997–2012) on the hydrography and phytoplankton biomass of Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay

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Luz María Martínez-Fuentes
Gilberto Gaxiola-Castro
Eliana Gómez-Ocampo
Mati Kahru


Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay (Baja California Peninsula, Mexico) presents hydrographic conditions and phytoplankton biomass corresponding to a temperate/subtropical transition zone affected by large-scale tropical and subtropical events and those events originating in the subpolar Pacific region. Conditions in the first 50 m depth of the bay are mostly temperate (average temperature: 15.5 ºC; average salinity: 33.6) and mesotrophic (phytoplankton biomass: >1 mg m–3). During spring and summer the bay is heavily influenced by the water transported by the California Current and the coastal upwelling generated off Punta Canoas. During the rest of the year the hydrography and phytoplankton biomass are mostly associated with subtropical conditions. The ENSO events arising in the period 1997–2012 affected the bay’s water column. The extreme 1997–1998 El Niño generated increases of ~8 ºC in temperature and ~0.8 in salinity. Local dynamic processes decreased the effects of moderate and weak El Niño events on phytoplankton biomass, with possible changes in the plankton functional groups. Due to the mostly temperate environment of the bay, the moderate 1998–2000 and 2010–2011 La Niña events did not generate a substantial change in the hydrography and phytoplankton biomass. However, the abundant subarctic water inflow in the period 2002–2006 abruptly decreased salinity and led to increased stratification of the water column and a reduction in phytoplankton chlorophyll.


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Martínez-Fuentes, L. M., Gaxiola-Castro, G., Gómez-Ocampo, E., & Kahru, M. (2016). Effects of interannual events (1997–2012) on the hydrography and phytoplankton biomass of Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay. Ciencias Marinas, 42(2), 81–97. https://doi.org/10.7773/cm.v42i2.2626