Blog on ocean conditions along the Newport Line and the northern CA Current.
We are a group of scientists from NOAA Fisheries and the Oregon State University Cooperative Institute of Marine Resources Studies. We are located at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport Oregon.
Over the past 20+ years, we have been studying how the ocean changes in response to changing environmental conditions. To do this, we sample seven stations along the Newport Hydrographic Line (NH Line) from 1-25 miles from shore. We sample these stations twice monthly, year round, and have been doing this consistently since 1996. At each station we collect physical oceanographic measurements and water samples for analysis of nutrients, chlorophyll and phytoplankton. We also conduct plankton net tows to quantify the abundance and species composition of zooplankton, krill, fish eggs and larvae, and crab larvae.
We have also completed ~80 broader scale surveys spanning from northern Washington to northern California, with some transect lines extending out to 200 miles from shore. These broader scale sample collections help put our high temporal resolution sampling along the NH Line into a larger geographic context.
This is an exciting year for the Newport Hydrographic Line! We are celebrating the 20th year of this long-term observation program, and it has officially qualified as a “climate time series” based on IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) standards. Hooray!
What we learn from the Newport Hydrographic Line
Our 20+ year time series of physical and biological observations along the NH Line and beyond allows us to better understand seasonal, inter-annual and inter-decadal changes at the base of the marine food web. We put our time series observations in the context of monthly changes in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and daily values of local winds and sea surface temperature. By coupling our observations with these indices and buoy data, we can track changes in ocean conditions and monitor how this affects commercially important species such as salmon, sablefish, sardine, and rockfish.
A very strange year indeed
This year, the ocean has been very different. Anomalously warm surface water dubbed the “Warm Blob” moved onto the continental shelf off Newport in September 2014. A very large Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) spanning from British Columbia to California is occurring off the coast right now. El Niño conditions are occurring at the equator and NOAA is forecasting a 90% chance that an El Niño will persist through the Fall.
We are uncertain what these strange ocean conditions mean for the pelagic food chain off Oregon. We hope you’ll follow our blog as we report on the ocean conditions off Newport Oregon and beyond.