Strengthened ocean-desert process in the North Pacific over the past two decades

Siyu Meng, Xun Gong, Yang Yu, Xiaohong Yao, Xiang Gong, Keyu Lu, Chao Zhang, Jie Shi, Xiaojie Yu, Huiwang Gao

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North Pacific ocean desert (NPOD) refers to the subtropical North Pacific Ocean of low chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentrations, as the largest ocean desert globally. Studies have suggested a development of NPOD over recent decades based on limited evidences from in-field measurements and yet elusive mechanism. In this study, we characterize intensity, area and position of the NPOD from year 1998 to 2018, and investigate its control by the coherent climate processes, based on an available, longest satellite observations of Chl-a concentration. Our results suggested that NPOD oligotrophication and expansion processes were correlated with warming upper oceans in most part of the NPOD, except for the SW NPOD area where the Chl-a variations were linked with regional change in sea surface heights. Moreover, based on our analysis, insignificant shift but only NW-SE variability of the NPOD mean position was likely controlled by the Pacific decadal oscillation processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number024034
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • North Pacific ocean desert
  • chlorophyll-a
  • ocean vertical structure
  • climate change
  • sea surface height

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