El Niño–related offshore phytoplankton bloom events around the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea

Isoguchi, Osamu; Kawamura, Hiroshi; Ku-Kassim, Ku-Yaacob

Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 32, Issue 21, CiteID L21603


Satellite chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) observations reveal offshore phytoplankton bloom events with high Chl-a (>1 mg m-3) spreading over 300 km off the coasts around the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea (SCS) during the spring of 1998. The bloom entails anomalous wind jet and sea surface temperature (SST) cooling, suggesting that the wind jet-induced mixing and/or offshore upwelling bring about the cooling and the bloom through the supply of nutrient-rich waters into the euphotic zone. The strong wind jet is orographically formed responding to shifts in wind direction over the eastern SCS. The wind shift is connected with the Philippine Sea anomalous anticyclone that is established during El Niño, indicating the El Niño-related offshore bloom. The long-term reanalysis winds over the eastern SCS demonstrates that wind jet formation and associated offshore cooling/bloom are expected to occur in most cases of the subsequent El Niño years.

Keywords: Oceanography: Physical: ENSO (4922), Oceanography: Physical: Topographic/bathymetric interactions, Oceanography: Biological and Chemical: Phytoplankton

DOI: 10.1029/2005GL024285