California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment

Newport Hydrographic Line

The Newport Hydrographic (Newport Line) is an oceanographic research survey conducted by NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Oregon State University scientists in the coastal waters off Newport, Oregon (Fig. 1).

Researchers have collected physical, chemical, and biological oceanographic metrics along the Newport Line every two weeks for over 20 years. This twenty-plus year dataset helps us to understand the connections between changes in ocean-climate and ecosystem structure and function in the California Current1,2,3.

Data from the Newport Line are distilled into ocean ecosystem indicators, used to characterize the habitat and survival of juvenile salmonids, and which have also shown promise for other stocks such as sablefish, rockfish, and sardine4. These data also provide critical ecosystem information on emerging issues such as marine heatwaves3, ocean acidification, hypoxia6, and harmful algal blooms7.

The California Current IEA team uses Newport Line data in our annual Ecosystem Status Report presented to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC)5. This report is part of NOAA's Integrated Ecosystem Assessment approach, which uses ecosystem science to inform management decisions. 

Ocean conditions provide outlooks for adult salmon returns

Salmon survival is closely correlated with ocean conditions experienced by young salmon entering the sea. NOAA and Oregon State researchers have distilled Newport Line data into a series of ecosystem indicators, such as the relative biomass of energy-rich northern copepod species (Fig. 2), to characterize ocean conditions for juvenile salmon entering the northern California Current.

The researchers incorporate these indicators and other ocean metrics (basin, regional, and local) into a ‘stop light’ table (Fig. 3) that supports annual outlooks on salmon returns 1–2 years before they return to their natal streams.

Barometer of ocean acidification and hypoxia in a changing climate

Global climate models suggest future changes in coastal upwelling will lead to increased incidence of hypoxia and further exacerbate the effects of ocean acidification. The Newport Line time-series provides a baseline of biogeochemical parameters, such as Aragonite saturation state—an indicator of acidic conditions (Fig. 4). Researchers can compare this baseline against possible future changes in the abundance of organisms (e.g., pteropods, copepods and krill) sensitive to ocean acidification and hypoxia.

Read more:

Newport Hydrographic Line team:

  • Kym Jacobson- NOAA-NWFSC
  • Jennifer Fisher- OSU-CIMRS
  • Samantha Zeman- OSU-CIMRS
  • Cheryl Morgan- OSU-CIMRS
  • NOAA Fisheries - Northwest Fisheries Science Center
  • CIMRS - Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies
  • OSU - Oregon State University


  1. Keister, J.E., E. Di Lorenzo, C.A. Morgan, V. Combes, W.T. Peterson. 2011. Zooplankton species composition is linked to ocean transport in the northern California Current. Global Change Biology 17: 2498-2511. 

  2. Fisher, J.L., W.T. Peterson, R.R. Rykaczewski. 2015. The impact of El Niño events on the pelagic food chain in the northern California Current. Global Change Biology, 21: 4401-4414.

  3. Peterson, W.T., J.L. Fisher, P.T. Strub, X. Du, C. Risien, J. Peterson, C.T. Shaw. 2017. The pelagic ecosystem in the Northern California Current off Oregon during the 2014-2016 warm anomalies within the context of the past 20 years. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 122: 7267-7290.

  4. Peterson, W.T., J.L. Fisher, J.O. Peterson, C.A. Morgan, B.J. Burke, K.L. Fresh. 2014. Applied fisheries oceanography: ecosystem indicators of ocean conditions inform fisheries management in the California Current. Oceanography, 27: 80-89.

  5. Harvey, C.J., J.L. Fisher, J.F. Samhouri, G.D. Williams, T.B. Francis, K.C. Jacobson, L. Yvonne, M.E. Hunsicker, N. Garfield. 2020. The importance of long-term ecological time series for integrated ecosystem assessment and ecosystem-based management. Progress in Oceanography 58: 2279-2292.

  6. Peterson, J.O., C.A. Morgan, W.T. Peterson, E. Di Lorenzo. 2013. Seasonal and interannual variation in the extent of hypoxia in the northern California Current from 1998-2012. Limnology and Oceanography 58: 2279-2292.

  7. Du, X., W. Peterson, J. Fisher, M. Hunter, J. Peterson. 2016. Initiation and development of a toxic and persistent Pseudo-nitzchia bloom off the Oregon coast in spring/summer 2015. PLOS ONE 11, e0163977.


map of Newport line
Figure 1. Map showing the location of the Newport Hydrographic (NH) Line, including key geographic features of the coastline and bathymetry; bold blue line represents 200 m depth contour.


Monthly copepod biomass anomalies
Figure 2. Monthly biomass anomalies of the northern (top) and southern (bottom) copepod taxa from 1996 to present. Biomass values are log base-10 units of mg carbon m-3.


Northern California Current Ocean Indicators Table
Figure 3. Rank scores derived from ocean indicators data and color-coded to reflect ocean conditions for salmon growth and survival (green = good; yellow = intermediate; red = poor). Lower numbers indicate better ocean conditions, or "green lights" for salmon growth and survival.


Aragonite saturation state in the water column, station NH25.
Figure 4. Aragonite saturation vertical profiles for station NH25 (25 nm offshore of Newport, OR). Black line indicates the depth (m) at which aragonite saturation state = -1.0, which is considered a biological threshold below which seawater can be especially corrosive to shell-forming organisms.