Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
Ocean Sci., 8, 81–90, 2012
Ocean Sci., 8, 81–90, 2012

Research article 15 Feb 2012

Research article | 15 Feb 2012

Sea surface temperature anomalies, seasonal cycle and trend regimes in the Eastern Pacific coast

A. Ramos-Rodríguez1,3, D. B. Lluch-Cota1, S. E. Lluch-Cota1, and A. Trasviña-Castro2 A. Ramos-Rodríguez et al.
  • 1Programa de Ecología Pesquera, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, S.C., La Paz, Mexico
  • 2Departamento de Oceanografía Física-Unidad La Paz, Centro de Investigación Científica y Educación Superior de Ensenada, Ensenada, Mexico
  • 3Universidad Tecnológica del Mar de Tamaulipas Bicentenario, La Pesca, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Abstract. We used the extended reconstruction of sea surface temperature (ERSST) to analyze the variation of surface temperature and the seasonal cycle along the coast of the eastern Pacific (60° N–60° S, 61 pixels alongshore) from 1950 to 2010 (732 months). First, we analyzed the monthly anomalies and looked for a relationship of such anomalies with total solar irradiance (TSI) and then the Regime Shift Detector (RSD) was applied to detect possible temperature regimes in the series. Afterwards, we calculated a yearly temperature range per pixel (amplitude of seasonal cycle) and through the subtraction of a latitudinal theoretical curve of temperature based on solar irradiance, the residuals of the seasonal cycle were obtained. The results showed an almost complete spatial synchrony and dominance of negative anomalies from 1950 to mid-late 1970's, with a switch to near-zero and positive anomalies that lasted up to late 1990's when a new shift to negative values was detected. Such a shift lasted until the early 2000's when positive anomalies appeared again but there was a change to negative anomalies in the late 2000's. These results were supported by the RSD. The TSI variability shows a clear relationship with that of sea surface temperature anomalies and with the regime changes. This is probably due to a difference in the amount of energy received from the sun. Comparing the "cool regime" versus the "warm regime", the second one received 0.39% more energy (approximately 3 × 108 J m−2) from the sun. Seasonal cycles show larger ranges at northern latitudes (>40° N), northern tropical-temperate transition zone (20°–26° N) and in the tropical-equatorial band (0°–30° S). The smallest ranges occur at 0°–16° N and 50°–60° S. The residuals (seasonal minus the theoretical curve) indicated a clear modulation due to advection by ocean currents.