Pacific Decadal Oscillation and recent oxygen decline in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean

Duteil, Olaf; Oschlies, Andreas; Böning, Claus W.

The impact of the positive and negative phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) on the extension of the poorly oxygenated regions of the eastern Pacific Ocean was assessed using a coupled ocean circulation–biogeochemical model. We show that during a “typical” PDO-positive phase the volume of the suboxic regions expands by 7 % over 50 years due to a slowdown of the large-scale circulation related to the decrease in the intensity of the trade winds. Changes in oxygen levels are mostly controlled by advective processes between 10inline-formula N and 10inline-formula S, whereas diffusive processes are dominant poleward of 10inline-formula: in a “typical” PDO-positive phase the sluggish equatorial current system provides less oxygen to the eastern equatorial part of the basin while the oxygen transport by diffusive processes significantly decreases south of 10inline-formula S. The suboxic region located north of 10inline-formula N displays less sensitivity to the phase of the PDO as the local upwelling-related processes play a dominant role compared to the large-scale circulation in setting the oxygen concentration. Our study suggests that the prevailing PDO-positive conditions since 1975 may explain a significant part of the current deoxygenation occurring in the eastern Pacific Ocean.



Duteil, Olaf / Oschlies, Andreas / Böning, Claus W.: Pacific Decadal Oscillation and recent oxygen decline in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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