Phenomena

Coastal Upwelling

Cool temperatures and abundant nutrients make the waters off the western coast of North America especially biologically productive. This image is a composite of satellite data highlighting large phytoplankton blooms in the California Current. This current runs southward along the coastline, and, like other eastern boundary currents, it experiences strong upwelling, or rising of colder, nutrient-rich waters from lower depths. The upwelling is driven in part by Earth’s rotation. As the earth spins, Coriolis effects push the California Current out from the coast, allowing deeper waters to rise and fill the void. The cooler water provided by the upwelling is a major factor in the moderated climate along the West Coast. (Image credit: NASA/N.Kuring; via NASA Earth Observatory)

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