Ancient algae provide insights into Earth's response to global warming

December 16, 2009

Using algae records from the early Pliocene, when earth's climate was warmer, scientists are finding evidence which suggests that coastal upwelling off the California coast was sustained in this period even though sea surface temperatures were several degrees higher than today. Long associated with cold water, coastal upwelling is the mechanism responsible for California's productive waters. It draws cool, nutrient-rich water to the surface, promoting the growth of algae and boosting productivity through the food chain. San Francisco State University Professor Petra Dekens and her team presented results of their analysis today at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meeting in San Francisco.

Dekens also presented research on temperature variations along the California coast during the early Pliocene, providing insight into how climate change may affect the ocean currents that drive regional and global climate patterns, for example the California current which produces California's coastal fog and cold sea temperatures.
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The full AGU program can be found online at: http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/program/index.php

San Francisco State University

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