Nutrient and salinity decadal variations in the central and eastern North Pacific



[1] Long-term timeseries of upper ocean salinity and nutrients collected in the Alaskan Gyre along Line P exhibit significant decadal variations that are shown to be in phase with variations recorded in the Southern California Current System by the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation (CalCOFI). We present evidence that these variations are linked to the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO)—a climate mode of variability that tracks changes in strength of the central and eastern branches of the North Pacific gyres and of the Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension (KOE). The NPGO emerges as the leading mode of low-frequency variability for salinity and nutrients. We reconstruct the spatial expressions of the salinity and nutrient modes over the northeast Pacific using a regional ocean model hindcast from 1963-2004. These modes exhibit a large-scale coherent pattern that predicts the in-phase relationship between the Alaskan Gyre and California Current timeseries. The fact that large-amplitude, low-frequency fluctuations in salinity and nutrients are spatially phase-locked and correlated with a measurable climate index (the NPGO) open new avenues for exploring and predicting the effects of long-term climate change on marine ecosystem dynamics.