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A New Long-Term Dataset Combines Ocean and Weather Data on the Oregon Coast


The California Current System runs along the US West Coast, including on Oregon’s continental shelf, and has summertime upwelling processes which are critical to both marine ecosystems and coastal economies. Since 1960, monitoring programs along Oregon’s coastline have helped to advance the understanding of oceanographic processes. In 1997, a mooring, or permanent structure anchored to the sea floor, was outfitted with scientific instruments to measure water flow velocity throughout the depth of the ocean. A second mooring was placed on Oregon’s continental shelf in 1999 with expanded sampling abilities to collect measurements of velocity, temperature, and conductivity of the ocean water along with meteorological observations. Oregon State University (OSU) has maintained another series of moorings in the region since 2006, contributing to the long term observing effort to maintain meteorological and oceanographic data. 

A new study, with funding from CPO’s Climate Observations and Monitoring (COM) Program, in collaboration with the Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections (MAPP) Program and Climate and Societal Interactions (CSI) Division, integrates these mooring measurements into a dataset spanning more than two decades and makes the data publicly available for the first time. This new dataset, compiled by CPO-supported scientists Melanie Fewings, Craig Risien, and Brandy Cervantes of OSU, can be used to understand upwelling processes at time scales from sub-seasonal to decadal. The study, published in Data in Brief, emphasizes the value of long-term data series for identifying trends over time that may be difficult to detect because of variability on shorter time scales. Future climate models can also use this data to validate and verify their results. This work was funded by COM to produce observation-based ocean climate information for the scientific community and by a COM-MAPP-CSI joint solicitation to improve the understanding of climate variability and change on protected aquatic resources, and ultimately improve management planning, by improving observational datasets and making them more accessible. The collaborative funding call contributes to a NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries initiative to support the management of Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments in a changing climate.

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