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15 Effects of Ocean Upwelling

by Ranisa Alda

Upwelling is a process from currents in the ocean that plays a huge role in the marine productivity. The sea life that we commonly known, may be mostly concentrated in the sunlit waters and up near the surface.

However, there are a lot of organic matter that is far below in the deep waters or even on the sea floor. Then when the currents are upwelling, they will have some effects on the its surrounding. Here, we are going to explain some of the effects of ocean upwelling.

  1. Sweep Vital Nutrients to Where They Belong

As we have explained above, the currents can go through an upwell process. This process then will help to sweep the vital nutrients that are left in deep waters as well as on the sea floor to the places where they are needed the most.

See also: Impact of Ocean Currents

  1. Produce Food for Animals

The upwelling not only sweep the nutrients but also nitrogen and phosphate from the deep sea. The nitrogen and phosphate then will be useful to bloom the algae and other plants that will later be consumed by krill, the shrimp-like crustaceans. The krill then will be eaten by some largest animals on earth such as myriad penguins, seabirds, seals, as well as baleen whales.

See also: Causes of Ocean Surface Circulation Currents

  1. Contribute to Productive Ecosystems

One of the ecological effects of ocean upwelling is that the nutrient-rich waters that are brought by the upwelling, as explained before, can help the growth of seaweed and phytoplankton. They will then be the source of energy for large animal populations, making the upwelling ecosystems become one of the most productive ecosystems. One example of the ecosystems is the U.S. west coast ecosystem that is very productive and support many of the world’s most important fisheris.

See also: Importance of Ocean Currents for Fishing

  1. Fisheries Sources

The total of coastal upwelling regions in the world can only take up to one percent of the ocean surface. However, although the amount it takes is so small, the coastal upwelling regions can contribute up to roughly 50% of the world’s fisheries sources.

See also: Oceans in the World

  1. Animal Movement: Reduce the Survival Chance

We first need to understand that there are a lot of marine fish and invertebrates can produce microscopic larvae. The larvae then can drift away in the water due to the currents, and this condition can take up to weeks or even months. Also, it is worth to note that there are some marine creatures that lives in the shallow waters nearshore. The drifting larvae due to upwelling, then can move them away from their natural habitat. Thus, decreasing their chance to survive.

See also: Movement of Ocean Water

6. Create Major Food Web in Pacific Northwest

There are winds that are favorable to upwelling. These winds in Pacific Northwest are usually weaker the seasonal ones . However, although the winds are said to be weaker, they can still gather a large pool of nutrients. The nutrients that will further be enhanced by some several deep-water canyons near the shore. This condition the resulted in a greatly diverse food web, making it have more marine mammals and species of kelps more than any other area in the world.

See also: Characteristics of Ocean Gyres

7. Transport Larval Fish and Invertebrates to Mainland Reefs

When winds are slowing down or go to a reverse direction, the upwelling will cease and the warm surface waters from the Gulf of Farallones then will move back north, towards the coast. These surface waters then will be transporting the invertebrates and larval fish to the mainland reefs. Making them settle there and grow, thus creating new ground for the fisheries.

See also: Movement of Ocean Water

  1. Create Contrast of Animals Between Areas

The upwelling will create boundary between the nutrient-rich waters because of the upwelling and the nutrient-depleted area due to the nutrients being drifted away by the upwell. The boundary than will create a biological transition zone between the subtropical species and the temperate species that will be each unique to their own area.

See also: Function of Ocean Currents

  1. Upwelling in Deep Water

There is this effect called Coriolis effect in the currents that are mostly responsible for the coastal regions’ upwelling. The effect can cause the open ocean near equator to have upwelling. The wind at the equator then will blow water both to the north and south, thus allowing the deeper water that usually isn’t reached by the process to also have upwelling.

See also: Impacts of Ocean Currents on Climate

10. Create and Weaken Cyclone

A slow-moving cyclone will generate wind patterns that can blow the surface water aside. This then can cause upwelling directly beneath the eye of the cyclone. However, the colder water can help to eventually weaken the cyclone.

See also: Waves in Ocean

11. Potentially Lower Fish Population

Storms such as El Nino can weaken some trade winds. The weak winds, then if being combine with deep water, can limit the upwelling from happening. This then will cause reduction in nutrient-rich water, that can lead to decreasing fish population in the affected areas.

See also: Effects of Wind on Ocean Currents

  1. Coastal Climate

The upwelling will bring cold water up to the surface and cools the air in the region around it. This condition then can create what we call as sea fog. Two examples of the regions that are famous for being foggy and chilly in the summers are the California and San Fransisco. This happens because of the seasonal upwelling in both of the areas.

The cold water welling up to the surface cools the air in the region. This promotes the development of sea fog. The city of San Francisco, California, is famous for its chilly, foggy summers, brought on by seasonal upwelling in the area.

See also: Types of Ocean Current

  1. May Not Be Able to Sweep Nutrients

Because of global warming, upwelling may happen more often than before. Although this will most likely result in a more productivity of the ecosystems, there might be another option that can happen. Global warming may make the top of the ocean become thicker and warmer, thus locating the cold and nutrient-rich water too deep for the upwelling to reach and drift them away. Thus make the upwelling to fail bring the resources needed to produce the ocean food web that then can also lead to decreasing fishery products.

See also: Effects of Ocean Currents

  1. Hypoxic Event

Global warming can also cause changes in the severity or frequency of low-oxygen. This situation can also be called as “hypoxic”. This situation has even plagued the Pacific Northwest area for the past decade. A hypoxic situation can cause the microbial decay from the phytoplankton to uses up the available oxygen, that can lead to a die-off of fish and the other marine life forms since they will then struggle to get oxygen.

  1. Less Tree Growth

Winter upwelling, although can support the marine productivity, however will block the storm fronts and precipitation from falling to the land. This can make the trees to grow slower, especially to the drought-sensitive trees such as blue oak.

These are only 15 out of many effects of ocean upwelling. From what we can see, although the upwelling indeed gives some huge benefits, there are also some negative effects from it. We hope that this article has been helpful for you to understand better about our ocean.

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