Upwelling Bays: How Coastal Upwelling Controls Circulation, Habitat, and Productivity in Bays

Authors: John L. Largier

Bays in coastal upwelling regions are physically driven and biochemically fueled by their interaction with open coastal waters. Wind-driven flow over the shelf imposes a circulation in the bay, which is also influenced by local wind stress and thermal bay–ocean density differences. Three types of bays are recognized based on the degree of exposure to coastal currents and winds (wide-open bays, square bays, and elongated bays), and the characteristic circulation and stratification patterns of each type are described. Retention of upwelled waters in bays allows for dense phytoplankton blooms that support productive bay ecosystems. Retention is also important for the accumulation of larvae, which accounts for high recruitment in bays. In addition, bays are coupled to the shelf ecosystem through export of plankton-rich waters during relaxation events. Ocean acidification and deoxygenation are a concern in bays because local extrema can develop beneath strong stratification.

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