Today is all about oceans. Well, maybe not. It has been raining on and off for about two days and needless to say that limits some outdoor activities. Oh, I’m not afraid of a little rain. I really don’t mind getting wet. But today, I wanted to stay dry and I wanted to see the ocean. So, I took my trusty Mac and settled in at a café on the coast near the harbor. Best of both worlds: I’m dry with a cup of coffee as the ocean is speckled with rain. And to top it all off my soundtrack for today is Moon Ska as I contemplate upwelling.
What is upwelling? It’s a term that I was introduced to during presentations I recently attended on interpretation of natural resources including the sequoia sempervirens. Now, what do Ska, redwoods and upwelling have in common? (other than me) Follow along and I promise it will become clear….
The ocean surface is exposed to sunlight and as we all know light is heat. That heat develops a stratification of water temperatures on the ocean: warm water on the surface and colder water layers at deeper levels. When offshore winds blow the warm water ‘layer’ away from the shore the cooler waters rise to the top (upwelling) bringing all sorts of yummy stuff to the surface. Our little friends, the phytoplankton, have a smörgåsbord of a meal. When their little bellies are full (kidding of course, phyto don’t have bellies) they bask in the sun, do the ska dance and multiply. This of course creates a rich and tasty feast for the jellyfish, whales and shrimp that feed on them. And that creates a great place for fish and the fishermen that chase them. It also creates rich tide pools for me to explore! But, I digress.
The other lovely effect of upwelling is fog. Air is always wet, but the air at the coast is always a little wetter. Seems obvious but this is important. Cold surface water chills the wet air to the dew point and creates fog. This occurs all along the California coast. And more so in the summer months. On the north coast fog feeds our sequoia sempervirens. Almost half of the water absorbed by our beloved trees is from fog – both in absorption and in reducing natural water loss (evaporation, etc.). Cool, right?
oceans and ska
Now, today I am sitting here watching the boats bobble in the wind and rain as I further consider upwelling and think that the water temp out there must be pretty darn cold. 52 degrees to be exact, calling for a full wet suit if you decide to surf or swim today. Surfing does occur on the north coast. It’s not just a sunny southern California sport. SoCal does however have one claim to fame that we do not: ‘surf’ music. You might be familiar with Dick Dale, the Del-Tones, the Bel-Aires, the Impacts, etc. who are from various locations in SoCal. But SoCal is also, arguably, the foundation of third wave Ska. And that, brings me to my soundtrack for today. So, back to my music, contemplation of upwelling and my meandering mind.
Just for fun…
And for the more serious Ska student – a classic: