The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) was formed in 1949 to study the ecological aspects of the sardine population collapse off California.

Today, CalCOFI's focus has shifted to the study of the marine environment off the coast of California, the management of its living resources, and monitoring the indicators of El Nino and climate change. Quarterly cruises are conducted off southern & central California, collecting a suite of hydrographic and biological data on station and underway.


In 2004, CalCOFI added 9 SCCOOS stations to the standard 66 station pattern. Stations are typically positioned on the 20m isobath. On each station, a CTD Rosette is deployed measuring temperature, salinity, oxygen, fluorescence, transmittance, nitrate and PAR. Bottles analyze seawater for salinity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll-a, and nutrients. A Bongo net is also towed at every SCCOOS station. Marine mammal and seabird visual surveys are conducted during transits between stations as well as marine mammal acoustics recording.

Ocean Observations

  • CO2 (Keeling) & DIC
  • Nutrients (bottle samples)
  • Phaeopigments (bottle samples)
  • HPLC (bottle samples)
  • Salinity (bottle samples)
  • Ichthyoplankton (bottle samples)
  • Phytoplankton (bottle samples)
  • Chlorophyll (bottle samples)
  • Oxygen (bottle samples & CTD)
  • pH (CTD)
  • Fluorescence (CTD)
  • Water Temperature (CTD)
  • Zooplankton (Bongo net)
  • Currents (ADCP)
  • Marine Mammals
  • Sea Birds


1. Fisheries and Ecosystems
2. Water Quality
3. Climate Variability and Change 

The California Current System is nothing if not dynamic with physical and biological conditions often changing greatly between years. Analysis of data from the earliest days of the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) program in the 1950s demonstrated that oceanographic conditions can be highly variable from year to year, leading to substantial changes in the abundance and distribution of marine organisms. The CalCOFI dataset is invaluable to monitoring anomalies in sea surface temperature, salinity, nutrients and marine organisms abundance and distribution.

Data Access:

SCCOOS Principal Investigator

  1. Ralf Goericke, UCSD rgoericke 


Kelly, T. B., Goericke, R., Kahru, M., Song, H., & Stukel, M. R. (2018). CCE II: Spatial and interannual variability in export efficiency and the biological pump in an eastern boundary current upwelling system with substantial lateral advection. Deep-Sea Res. I. doi 2018.08.007

Wells, B. K., Schroeder, I. D., Bograd, S. J., Hazen, E. L., Jacox, M. G., Leising, A., Goericke, R., ... & Bjorkstedt, E. (2017). State of the California Current 2016–17: Still anything but normal in the north. CalCOFI. Rep, 58, 1-55.

Stukel MR, Aluwihare LI, Barbeau KA, Chekalyuk AM, Goericke R, et al. (2017). Mesoscale ocean fronts enhance carbon export due to gravitational sinking and subduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114: 1252-57. doi: 1609435114

Lindegren, M., Checkley, D. M., Ohman, M. D., Koslow, J. A., & Goericke, R. (2016). Resilience and stability of a pelagic marine ecosystem. Proc. R. Soc. B, 283(1822). doi: 20151931

McClatchie S, Goericke R, Leising A, Auth TD, Bjorkstedt E, et al. (2016). State of the California Current 2015-16: Comparisons with the 1997-98 El Nino. California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations Reports 57: 5-61.

Goericke, R., M.D. Ohman (2015) Introduction to CCE-LTER: Responses of the California Current Ecosystem to climate forcing. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 112, 1-5.


NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS).