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Gulfstream Upwelling

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.
PDO Cycles

OceanSwimmer, I was mistaken about the years. It was 1947 to 1976, instead of 1945 to 1976. It has been almost three years since I read the University of Washington paper on the subject. I followed up just now with a search, and sure enough, led me to the same papers. People here are starting to believe me now, after telling them not to sell their four wheel drive trucks, and snow plows. We've already had more precipatation, and one hell of a cold summer, not to mention last winter, here in NJ. I was only a young teenager when the last PDO cold cycle phased out, although we had no idea it what it was, and was not freediving then. So don't know if these water temps fit the pattern. I do remember as a kid in the sixties, everybody's parents kept snow tires in the basement during the warm months. When was the last time you saw that around here?

Mike (Pez), I didn't know you were out there in CA already. Dive safe, have fun, and we'll do some more scooter diving when you get back. Take care,


Jim, Thanks for the update.
--Although I've always been a California resident, I recall the unease we felt in '79 and '80 noticing the trends of cooler summers and drier winters. Worked hard putting aside wood that summer and fall for the woodstove.
Then the winter of '80 hit after we got snow in mid-May (!!) It was a record season in the Sierra Nevadas.
Your comment about snow-tires is well-taken. This winter could be a doozie.
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I know that this winter in NY saw the first "real" winter we've had in almost 15 years. Perhaps the sea trends are indeed just another sign of the larger pattern at work here. Still, I'm curious to hear what is happening elsewhere along the coastlines?
This year has been pretty freaky. While upwellings are common off Florida, this year the event has been HUGE. Seriously cold water a lot earlier than normal, and the scope of it is a lot larger. In past years you would get cold water offshore central Florida below the thermocline at around 150fsw or so. This year, we hit 49-degree water at 70fsw offshore - ouch. Then a month or so later it rolled inshore. A lot of the deepwater fish moved inshore to escape the upwelling. We even had 48-degree water off Key West too -- absolutely *no* fish on a large wreck in 300fsw. It was surreal.
A lot of people are hoping this big east wind turns the water back over. In 2001 it didn't happen offshore until October...

Whatever is going on, it also has inhibited the current off Hatteras. Speaking of which...
Yup - many thanks to Jay et al. for picking our butts up. The dive was awesome, the conclusion - not so awesome. At least it was good to see so many familiar faces. I think I will be hearing about that for quite a while. <G>
Too bad Jay missed out on the free dinner and drinks that night...


Shipwrecks of the Sunshine State: Florida's Submerged History
This is off-topic, but I'm curious about your story of the famed 'rescue' by Jay and company...is it possible to post under freediving stories?

Thanks for the info about the upwelling and what is being observed off Hatteras. Amazing change in the thermocline! What a shocker that would be!

Kim, Thanks for the inclusion of other coastlines. :) It will be interesting to follow this through the winter, if possible. You could be right about anticipating more cold temps--- on land at least.

Here in San Diego, we are seeing yet another upward trend in temperatures on land and in the water. ----Another kelp die-off combined with algae makes a sorry showing.

I hope our resident biologists here can put this into perspective.

....I hear it was great, as in EPIC visibility up in northern California recently.......

Sven? Care to comment?
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The dive was on the USS VIRGINIA, one of Roosevelt's Great While Fleet battleships sunk by Billy Mitchell in 1923. We were told she rested in about 370FSW max, but we found actual depths much greater than that. We planned for 18 minutes for a TRT of 99 minutes on 350FSW tables. We ended up doing 18 minutes at 380FSW (average), with a maximum depth of 397FSW (still above the bottom), so we padded our run and surfaced at 125.
We had tried to dive this wreck two other times earlier in the week. The first attempt we had good sea surface conditions, but we couldn't hook it after several attempts and then a squall line was approaching so we headed in to dive another wreck closer to shore. The next day the seas got nasty while still 7 miles from the wreck, so we headed back to the dock. We would not conduct the dive if seas were in excess of 3-5 feet, any storms approaching on radar, and/or there were excessive whitecaps (anything past 14 kt winds generally). Any or all of these would complicate the captain's ability to see a lift bag and track any divers that happened to get blown off the wreck, etc.
We entered with stable 3-foot seas, no whitecaps (wind around 10 kts), and nothing within 12 miles on the radar. We had two support divers that were planning on diving with us, but they had to leave earlier in the week.
The dive went like clockwork - no bottom current, awesome visibility, and 63 degree bottom temps (warm for us!).
On deco at 50FSW, we were on our shot line when it got jerked away. We looked up and saw the silhouette (bad glare) of the boat either with our shotline fouled in the running gear, or tied off to a cleat. We had left strict instructions with the captain and crew to never, never, never tie off to our shotline. We could not keep up with the drift as the line got pulled at a acute angle. We shot bags while we could still see the boat [WHAT WE DIDN'T KNOW AT THE TIME: at this point the throttle cable was broken and the boat was disabled. they were rushing to put sea anchors overboard to slow their drift so they unfortunately missed the liftbags. the captain made the choice to tie off to the line to avoid losing us. the wind had unpredictably picked up dramatically. we did not know just how bad it was topside.]
For some reason, the captain looked at a set of our tables and believed we were doing our short run time of 88 minutes. However, we had informed him of all the potential scenarios.
We surfaced to find big spilling seas and a very stiff wind. [From what I heard from Lurch and Artie, winds were 20-25kts, and seas 10-12 foot. whatever it was, it was not pretty.]
no boat.
as soon as I sized up the situation - which took a couple of nano seconds - I said to the other guys "I hope Artie called Lurch (the captain of the Cape Fear)". Our boat sits very low and I knew it would be almost impossible for them to see us. The Cape Fear has a much better field of view from deck.
after about 20 minutes the timing of the seas put us on top of a big sucker, and we could barely see the antennae of a boat in the distance, perhaps 3/4 of a mile away. This was the Cape Fear just getting on scene I assume. We eventually lost them but saw another glimpse 10 minutes later. The three of us stayed together; two with raised liftbags, and me with the HID (we only had one HID burning to save the juice of the others). We were confident we would be found and picked up, it was just a matter of it would be minutes or hours. About 19 minutes later I saw the Cape Fear parallel to us in a trough. I waved the HID right at them and a split second I saw a diesel puff when Lurch throttled up to come get us. that was a nice feeling.
the guys on board then took another beating (they already had to take it on the chin coming out to get us) to launch the small boat to transfer deco bottles, etc.
after that we boarded the boat. I lucked out and caught a nice series of waves. it was tougher for the other guys who got jerked around, and not having a reg to breath (10% O2 backgas) made it even more difficult. Jay was right there on the swim platform taking a soaking.
By now our boat arrived, and one of the guy's actually filmed the recovery. I am waiting to see that, and will try to post it to the AUE website. The video from the dive itself is already up.
Lots of thank-yous were offered to Jay, Doug, Tane, Lurch, and the gang. We couldn't have asked for a better, more professional group of guys to come pick us up. Thank you letters are en route to UNC-W and NURC.
Of course the one-liners were flying afterwards....

Shipwrecks of the Sunshine State: Florida's Submerged History
!!! Great story!!!

Thank you, and I'll check your link.

Glad you had a happy landing. :cool:

'With this much adrenaline, who needs coffee?'
>Bill, what's happening in Hawaii!?
Water-wise things are about normal, I guess. Temps are over 80, a few degrees cooler in our training spot. Anyone with a boat is catching Tuna. Mahi are at the buoys. I lost count, four or five, of the thousand pound Marlin that have been caught this year.
Dive-wise, Sonny Tanabe's back in town for a three day extravaganza. The training sessions are a little easier, setting up the next cycle to peak in early October. Still haven't figured out how to clear my ears at 60 so I can get to 70.
Same Old S**t.
It looks like Monsieur Styron and the boys deserve their own theme song..... ;) Perhaps something in line with Sponge Bob, maybe something more inspirational though!

Glad you guys pulled through Mike!
Well guys the upwelling is still firmly in place but warming.....It looks like the "tropical wave" of last week's fame pushed in some warmer water. About ninety miles north of here the water at the shore jumped up 20 degrees, but there is still a cold layer at about 10'.

At the shoreline here the water is up to the low seventies (also a 20 degree jump), but the layer is at 6 ft and the water is only in the mid fifties there.

I guess we will have to continue to wait and see. I have no idea what the vis is doing offshore, but it looks like the trend here may be sliding out, at least for now. What's it doing elsewhere?

I'm working on the DB hero theme song for Jay.....i'll get y'all words when its done....maybe we need a new thread for that one..... ;)
This from the Univ. of Washington; might be of interest...
Hi Cynthia,
it's almost certain that what you've seen with the month to month cooling and
warming in So. Cal coastal waters has little to do with very large and
long-lived climate patterns like El Nino or PDO. I try to keep an eye on coastal
ocean changes (in part because I do a lot of fishing). And I have noticed that
S. Cal has had exceptionally warm ocean temperatures in the past few weeks, it
looks near-tropical in the satellite images. One thing we've seen this year has
been a lot of what I call "local" rises and fall in coastal ocean temperatures,
usually closely related to changes in the local winds.

In the bigger picture, there has been a broad warming trend in a wide band from
the Gulf of Alaska wrapping all the way down the Pacific coast (see the attached
image showing July 2003 surface temperature deviations from the long term July
[[[ed. note: I didn't include this on the post, but no doubt if you're interested, you can get it from Steven Bograd]]]. You'll no doubt notice the red/yellow band off much of California
indicating very warm temperatures, and also a bit of blue near S. Cal and around
Baja. This image doesn't have fine enough resolution to depict nearshore
temperatures, so it probably doesn't agree with what you are hearing from diver

Here in Washington we had a period with extended southerly (blowing toward the
north) winds that led to a sharp warming of the inshore waters. That warming
ended last week with a return of northerly (blowing toward the south) winds.
These winds are very important because they drive coastal upwelling (with a
north wind) and coastal downwelling (with winds out of the south). A nice set of
figures and explanations are available from the Pacific Fisheries Environmental
Group at


You can probably get really good answers about what's going on with Southern Cal
ocean temperatures from these people:

1) John McGowan, Scripps Institute of Oceanography
2) Steven Bograd, NOAA's Pacific Fisheries Environmental group
(I think his email is steven.bograd@noaa.gov)

Unfortunately, I don't know of a good reference that explains the kind of
changes you are seeing in nearshore ocean temperatures. Someone at Scripps
should be able to help you though, and I would start with John McGowan.

best wishes,
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Very interesting OceanSwimmer.....Curious how the local conditions are changing so rapidly, despite the appearance of at least minimal long term trends.

What are the rest of you seeing in water temps and quality? Is the weather changing as well?

We have another tropical "thing" (direct quote from my brilliant meteorologist in Orlando today) brewing in the Carribbean. I'm curious to see if it pushes the water temps up like the last one did. I find it interesting that the water temperatures continued to plummet until the storms began forming to the south. I'm wondering if the annual upwelling here has any role to play in keeping the coast from being directly hit by hurricances much of the time? Any thoughts?
Hey Kim and All,
I'm finally back. For the East Coast trends you can go to the Discovery Diving website for a good explination on whats happening here. Pretty much to sum it up, we've been having predominately SW winds(slightly to mostly offshore) here on the coast all summer. The usual trend is SE(generally on shore). Since this is happening the warm surface waters and Gulf Stream eddies are being pushed offshore. To replace the surface water colder water from the bottom is taking it's place. Think of a wind driven conveyer belt, you move the top part and the bottom comes to replace it. So in a nut shell when storms come(E. coast) they're usually coming from the S. and E., pushing warm water ahead of them and alot of the winds are from the NE to SE bringing warm offshore water and "reversing" the conveyer belt to it's normal direction. Why have we had so much SW wind? Dunno. I guess one good thing for us w/ cooler surface temps is hopefully it will lessen the chance for hurricanes.
We have the reverse going on in Lake Michigan right now.

Easterly winds have been blowing in the surface water from across the lake to the eastern shore of Wisconsin. THat means the warm, surface, water has been building up and pushing the thermocline down deeper. We have 70 degree water at 110' right now. I was out freediving on a wreck, in 90' of water, last week in just my swimmming suit.:cool:

We usually get this every August. Right now the vis is around 30', but when the cooler water comes back in (39F) we will get back to our 50'+ vis.

Hi Jay-
Sorry to hear the weather refused to cooperate for the majority of your trip. I just got the tape of the high-seas drama - it is pretty entertaining. Thanks again for the assist.
In regards to the SW winds, that is very plausible for localized areas, but I am not sure if it explains the entire SE coast. We had the typical strong E winds all spring in the Keys, and the cold water was present much earlier than you would think. We had rolling black water (less than 5 foot of vis) on the Wilkes-Barre in January - March, which hovered around 52-55 degrees. This was with the 80-degree Florida current topside. Look at what we had on the QON - I talked to some local guys and they mentioned that was seriously colder than it usually gets there. Same thing offshore off central Florida. Typical spring time conditions and we still had the screaming current off Canaveral, yet 49 degree water from 70 foot to 300fsw+. The 48-degree water we had on the Kendrick off Key West was rolling eastward at about 2-knots (no surface current; 85 degree surface water). This was about one month before it creeped inshore. Further, this cold water stretched from the Keys past South Carolina. I don't think it was an issue off North Carolina, just that the Labrador was winning the standoff with the Gulf Stream (probably due to the SW winds you mentioned), which happens every so many years. At least the water was warm up there - 63 degrees was quite pleasant compared to what we are getting down here. While some would not say this was a major basin event, looking at the record heat wave in Europe, and I would offer that there are at least a lot of odd coincidences...
Also, we get the typical upwelling in the summer from the friction of the Gulf Stream meandering inshore, not offshore. I am not exactly sure about all the nuances of upwelling, but I think it can be fairly complex. Right now, people are just looking for a quick answer, and you know scientists hate to say that they just don't know.

I think the complexity of what is happening world wide in the regions where DB folks are diving is the issue here. No one is looking for a quick answer (if we were, we would have quit asking days ago) - but I do think we have a number of things going on. I'm just waiting to see what is happening outside of our small portion of the earth's surface and is it related to the warming or cooling trends on other major oceans. Just my question of the day. Besides the water is definately cooler up and down the east coast based on the posts here. Sounds like it is cooler is So. Cal too....So is this a larger trend? Localized warming? These are the querries..... ;) Wish I had an answer. :)

Jay - we were hoping more for a gospel meets Ghostbusters as one member suggested...I'll let you know when the tune is done. ;)
Agreed Mike. It can't explain the overall weather patterns but localized as far as NC is concerned I think it holds true. The stuff in Europe is definately a different thing as well as FL and Cal. although I do think wind patterns have alot to do w/ the whole thing. Everybody has been talking about "Global Warming" for years, well I think it just hit Europe.;) There's definately something going on and I think it's just shades of things to come.
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