Visualizing Upwelling

My current research has a lot to do with coastal upwelling so I’ve been looking into ways to show people how it works. For those that do not know, upwelling is a wind-driven phenomenon where cool nutrient-rich water rises to the ocean surface. When wind blows across the ocean in a particular direction, surface water is transported at a net 90 degree angle due to Coriolis effects and Ekman Transport. Deep water is upwelled to replace the water that was lost.

Upwelled water feeds phytoplankton blooms which support highly efficient food chains in regions that include the coasts of California, Peru, and parts of Western Africa. Although coastal upwelling regions account for one percent of the ocean, they provide 50 percent of the world’s fish catch.

You can easily demonstrate this process at home with cold dyed water and artificial wind. Here it is in action:

I was also really looking for excuses to play with GoPros. Thank you to the Castillo lab for letting me borrow one.

2 thoughts on “Visualizing Upwelling

  1. I’m getting reading to teach a group of 5th graders about upwelling. Can you please elaborate on the materials required for this demonstration? What type of dye did you use? Thank you very much!


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