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The ocean off the Baja California Peninsula (Mexico) has been affected by interannual processes. Some of these processes have produced changes in oceanic circulation and the atmosphere, which have been reflected in the structure of the water column. Stratification, defined as the amount of energy needed to mix water throughout the water column, determines nutrient availability in the euphotic zone for phytoplankton growth. The aim of this study is to describe and relate the interannual variations of phytoplankton production and biomass with changes in the structure of the water column. To this end, we analyzed time series (1997–2016) for integrated Chlorophyll a, integrated primary production, pycnocline depth, mixed layer depth, and stratification indices along line 100 of the Investigaciones Mexicanas de la Corriente de California (IMECOCAL) program. The results showed 2 periods of high stratification and a decrease in phytoplankton production and biomass off Baja California, corresponding to the intrusion of subarctic water and El Niño 2015–2016. Finally, by using generalized additive models, we related 2 photosynthethic parameters-maximum photosynthetic rate and maximum light utilization coefficient-with water stratification. These relationships explained interannual variations in phytoplankton production in terms of water column stratification. The time series and the analysis reported here for IMECOCAL line 100 could be used to extrapolate the effects of interannual physical processes on phytoplankton in other zones off the Baja California peninsula.
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