Whither warming in the Galápagos? Journal Article uri icon



  • The Galápagos Islands play host to an iconic ecosystem—a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second largest marine reserve in the world, home to several endangered species. The waters off the west coast of the Galápagos are also one of the few places in the world ocean that are presently cooling, with potentially significant ecological consequences of this local reprieve from global warming. Here I show, using a recently developed high-resolution ocean state estimate, that the observed cooling in the Galápagos is the result of a strengthening of the wind-driven equatorial ocean circulation. An acceleration and shift of the Equatorial Undercurrent, which can be attributed to a strengthening of the cross-equatorial component of the trade wind in response to the interhemispheric gradient in surface warming, leads to a 54% increase in upwelling velocity along the western Galápagos Islands as well as increased shear-induced mixing. Analogous to other so-called “cold blobs,” such as the one south of Greenland in the North Atlantic, this is an early and important sentinel of a broader change in the tropical ocean circulation. Thus far, and for perhaps the very near future, the western shores of the Galápagos appear to offer refuge from some of the deleterious impacts of anthropogenic climate change including suppressed upwelling and surface warming.

publication date

  • September 7, 2022

has restriction

  • gold

Date in CU Experts

  • February 1, 2023 4:03 AM

Full Author List

  • Karnauskas KB

Full Editor List

  • Storto A

author count

  • 1

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2767-3200

Additional Document Info

start page

  • e0000056

end page

  • e0000056


  • 1


  • 9