Ocean observations and quasi-operational models coordinated by three of the regional associations of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) captured this extreme ocean climate as well as the expression of the 2015-2016 El Niño. Long-term mooring records showed anomalous effects not only on temperature, but also on salinity and stratification, due to changes in regional upwelling and local droughts. Regional IOOS web-based data portals allowed scientists, educators, and other users to visualize anomalies from moorings, satellites, and gliders. Numerical models, also served by the IOOS portals, forecast several major ecosystem impacts: ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, and hypoxia – that are directly influenced by ocean physics. Indeed, the warm blob was associated with an unprecedented harmful algal bloom that extended from California to the Gulf of Alaska over a five-month period, closing down a number of important fisheries from anchovies to Dungeness crab.
This presentation will highlight the quasi-operational physical and biogeochemical models that comprise the experimental ecosystem forecast systems: J-SCOPE (JISAO Seasonal Coastal Ocean Prediction of the Ecosystem), LiveOcean, and C-HARM (California Harmful Algae Risk Maps). J-SCOPE provides seasonal (6-9 month) forecasts of ocean conditions, sardine habitat, and ecosystem indicators in Washington and Oregon coastal waters. LiveOcean provides a three-day forecast of ocean conditions for the Washington coast. C-HARM is a harmful algal bloom forecast system that provides daily nowcasts and three-day forecasts of bloom and toxin risk for coastal California. These routine products and their supporting data streams are provided or hosted by NANOOS, CeNCOOS, and SCCOOS to improve management decisions for fisheries, protected species, and ecosystem/public health. The west coast IOOS regional associations also produce operational real-time products of the ocean environment for everyday use by a wide range of stakeholders, and these include wave and inundation models, observations of currents from high-frequency radar, and glider observations of the subsurface environment. Observations from coastal ocean sensors and remotely-sensed data are assimilated by several models. All of these platforms taken together provide a holistic view of short-term ocean variability that helps us describe the complicated dynamics of marine heat waves such as the Pacific Warm Anomaly and the recent El Niño and their marine ecosystem effects.