Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shocker: Warming increases number of fish

A paper published today in Earth Interactions finds that warmer sea temperatures are associated with more fish.

Physical oceanographic influences on central Benguela fish catch

Mark R. Jury
University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa, 3886, and Physics Dept, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, PR 00681

Ocean and atmosphere reanalysis fields are used to study environmental conditions and their relation to commercial fish catch in the central Benguela upwelling zone, using both targeted and objective techniques. Composite maps and sections indicate a 10-20% weakening of southeasterly winds, a 0.5°C warming of sea temperatures over the shelf and changes in currents and sub-surface upwelling associated with higher fish catch. During periods of high fish catch, recirculating gyres form that may aid the retention of eggs and larvae. Offshore winds contribute to poleward Ekman transport in a 50 m deep layer within 100 km of the coast.

In addition to composite analysis, the natural variability is studied by principal component analysis of wind stress, sea level, temperature, salinity, currents and vertical motion in the period 1970-2007. Comparison of interannual time scores and fisheries data indicate that anomalous poleward winds and warmer temperatures in the Luderitz plume, driven by an atmospheric trough in the South Atlantic, are associated with higher catch rates.

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