The presence of blooms of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi in the Bering Sea shelf has been studied using satellite imagery in order to ascertain whether its first reported appearance in 1997 is really a new phenomenon for the area. Examination for Emiliania huxleyi blooms in Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) imagery dating from 1978 to 1996 was performed and the relationship between the presence of Emiliania huxleyi and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the El Niño Southern Oscillation was investigated. No evidence of the presence of this species was found in CZCS or AVHRR imagery between 1978 and 1995. AVHRR images reveal that a small coccolithophore bloom was present in summer 1996. Although the blooms of 1997 were unprecedented in extension and intensity, it appears that the Bering Sea ecosystem did not respond as abruptly to atmospheric anomalies as initially reported.
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