In June, 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the first six months of this year were the hottest ever in California. And it was the second warmest year, on average, in Los Angeles in the last 70 years. California also experienced the warmest winter on record in 2013-2014. The warming is related to unusual weather patterns seen in the Sierra Nevada, where recent thunderstorms have pummeled dry forest lands with bursts of rain and lightning, Nate Mantua, Team Leader of Landscape Ecology for Southwest Fisheries Science Center, said.
The upper ocean within 50 to 100 miles of the coast has been 3.6 to about 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than what’s typical for this time of year, mostly south of the Golden Gate, he said.
“Scientists and many others that are interested in our ocean are paying close attention to this warming because it will likely impact marine life, and it could impact marine life beyond this summer,” he said.
Ocean waters are warming to a depth of 20 to 30 meters
Scientists concluded, the warm Ocean waters off the California coast reached depths of 20 to 30 meters. Ocean sunfish and sea nettles were detected farther north – and this is unusual.
The warmer ocean correlated with weaker winds, which reduced coastal upwelling, allowing warmer water to move inshore, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
If the warming continues this summer, he said more subtropical species like ocean sunfish, albacore, dorado, yellowtail, yellowfin or bluefin tuna, or Humboldt squid could move into water near the shore. The species typically avoid those waters when it is colder.
But if the warming persists into fall, Mantua warned some cold-environment species could suffer reduced growth, poor reproductive success and population declines. Warm-water species, however, may experience a reproductive boom. Sea surface temperatures were especially warm from July 15 to July 23.
El Nino weather pattern
An El Niño weather pattern would bring more exotic fish, including Marlin, Dorado and white seabass, offshore during September, October and November.But Mantua said, the patches of warm water in the North Pacific don’t appear to related to a tropical El Niño so far.
Forecasters said the chances of a wet El Niño weather pattern decreased to about 65%, and if it does arrive, it will probably be weaker than originally expected.