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Lesson 5: The Benguela Upwelling System

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True colour composite MERIS TOA image of the study area

Detail: Coccolithophore bloom

Chlorophyll concentration

The Benguela Current System (BCS) is one of four major eastern boundary upwelling systems of the world oceans. It spans three countries on the west coast of Africa from about 14°S in Angola, through the entire coast of Namibia to about 37°S off the southern tip of Africa. It extends along the south coast of South Africa to the eastern edge of the Agulhas Bank at about 37°E.

The Agulhas Bank region south of Africa is a very important area for pelagic fish spawning from November to March (Hutchings et al. 2002). After spawning, the eggs and larvae drift northwards, until juvenile fish recruitment occurs north of St Helena Bay. Adult fish then make their way back to the Agulhas Bank to spawn in the following austral spring-summer.

This lesson looks at a MERIS Level 1B image of a coccolithophore bloom south-west of Cape Town, South Africa, in autumn 2003. It will also explore a coastal upwelling event which took place during the summer (1-8 February) 2004, using data from the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) onboard Envisat.

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