We describe a large dinoflagellate bloom, unprecedented in nearly three decades of observation, that developed in San Francisco Bay (SFB) during September 2004. SFB is highly enriched in nutrients but has low summer-autumn algal biomass because wind stress and tidally induced bottom stress produce a well mixed and light-limited pelagic habitat. The bloom coincided with calm winds and record high air temperatures that stratified the water column and suppressed mixing long enough for motile dinoflagellates to grow and accumulate in surface waters. This event-scale climate pattern, produced by an upper-atmosphere high-pressure anomaly off the U.S. west coast, followed a summer of weak coastal upwelling and high dinoflagellate biomass in coastal waters that apparently seeded the SFB bloom. This event suggests that some red tides are responses to changes in local physical dynamics that are driven by large-scale atmospheric processes and operate over both the event scale of biomass growth and the antecedent seasonal scale that shapes the bloom community. Copyright 2005 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Climate anomalies generate an exceptional dinoflagellate bloom in San Francisco Bay