Humboldt Current

Humboldt Current
The presence of the Humboldt Current and its associated wind shear makes for conditions that inhibit the formation of tropical cyclones. (Worldwide tropical cyclone tracks, 1945–2006.)
La Silla is in the Southern outskirts of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, it may come as a surprise to see cloud formations result of the Humboldt Current.

Cold, low-salinity ocean current that flows north along the western coast of South America.

- Humboldt Current
Humboldt Current

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The main ocean currents involved with the North Pacific Gyre

Boundary current

Boundary currents are ocean currents with dynamics determined by the presence of a coastline, and fall into two distinct categories: western boundary currents and eastern boundary currents.

Boundary currents are ocean currents with dynamics determined by the presence of a coastline, and fall into two distinct categories: western boundary currents and eastern boundary currents.

The main ocean currents involved with the North Pacific Gyre
The world's largest ocean gyres

Subtropical eastern boundary currents flow equatorward, transporting cold water from higher latitudes to lower latitudes; examples include the Benguela Current, the Canary Current, the Humboldt (Peru) Current, and the California Current.

Southern Oscillation Index timeseries 1876–2017.

El Niño–Southern Oscillation

Irregular periodic variation in winds and sea surface temperatures over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, affecting the climate of much of the tropics and subtropics.

Irregular periodic variation in winds and sea surface temperatures over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, affecting the climate of much of the tropics and subtropics.

Southern Oscillation Index timeseries 1876–2017.
Southern Oscillation Index correlated with mean sea level pressure.
Diagram of the quasi-equilibrium and La Niña phase of the Southern Oscillation. The Walker circulation is seen at the surface as easterly trade winds which move water and air warmed by the sun towards the west. The western side of the equatorial Pacific is characterized by warm, wet low pressure weather as the collected moisture is dumped in the form of typhoons and thunderstorms. The ocean is some 60 cm higher in the western Pacific as the result of this motion. The water and air are returned to the east. Both are now much cooler, and the air is much drier. An El Niño episode is characterised by a breakdown of this water and air cycle, resulting in relatively warm water and moist air in the eastern Pacific.
The various "Niño regions" where sea surface temperatures are monitored to determine the current ENSO phase (warm or cold)
Average equatorial Pacific temperatures
The 1997 El Niño observed by TOPEX/Poseidon
The regions where the air pressure are measured and compared to generate the Southern Oscillation Index
A Hovmöller diagram of the 5-day running mean of outgoing longwave radiation showing the MJO. Time increases from top to bottom in the figure, so contours that are oriented from upper-left to lower-right represent movement from west to east.
Regional impacts of La Niña.
Colored bars show how El Niño years (red, regional warming) and La Niña years (blue, regional cooling) relate to overall global warming.

Normally the northward flowing Humboldt Current brings relatively cold water from the Southern Ocean northwards along South America's west coast to the tropics, where it is enhanced by up-welling taking place along the coast of Peru.

Atacama by NASA World Wind

Atacama Desert

Desert plateau in South America covering a 1,600 km (990 mi) strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes Mountains.

Desert plateau in South America covering a 1,600 km (990 mi) strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes Mountains.

Atacama by NASA World Wind
Snow in Paranal Observatory at 2,600 masl
A flat area of the Atacama Desert between Antofagasta and Taltal
Feral donkey in the Atacama desert
The lack of humidity, rain, and light pollution together produce a dusty, rocky landscape.
Rare rainfall events cause the flowering desert phenomenon in the southern Atacama Desert.
Vegetation in Pan de Azúcar National Park on the coast of the Atacama Desert
Andean flamingos in Salar de Atacama
Liolaemus nitidus, a lizard native to the southern reaches of the Atacama Desert
View of Chuquicamata, a large, state-owned copper mine
View of a forest in Pampa del Tamarugal from Chile Route 5. These forests were once devastated by the demand of firewood associated with saltpeter mining.
ALMA and the center of the Milky Way
Patagonia-Atacama Rally in 2007
Icy Penitents by moonlight
Tara Cathedrals (left) and Tara salt flat
Valle de la Luna, near San Pedro de Atacama
Laguna Verde
Valley in Atacama
Salt evaporation ponds in the Atacama Desert
Desert bloom (desierto florido)
Llamas
Valley of Death
Machuca chapel
Paranal Observatory
Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes, home to the ESO/NAOJ/NRAO ALMA
The Milky Way streaking across the skies above the Chilean Atacama Desert

The desert owes its extreme aridity to a constant temperature inversion due to the cool north-flowing Humboldt ocean current and to the presence of the strong Pacific anticyclone.

Ocean surface currents

Ocean current

Continuous, directed movement of sea water generated by a number of forces acting upon the water, including wind, the Coriolis effect, breaking waves, cabbeling, and temperature and salinity differences.

Continuous, directed movement of sea water generated by a number of forces acting upon the water, including wind, the Coriolis effect, breaking waves, cabbeling, and temperature and salinity differences.

Ocean surface currents
The bathymetry of the Kerguelen Plateau in the Southern Ocean governs the course of the Kerguelen deep western boundary current, part of the global network of ocean currents.
Coupling data collected by NASA/JPL by several different satellite-borne sensors, researchers have been able to "break through" the ocean's surface to detect "Meddies" – super-salty warm-water eddies that originate in the Mediterranean Sea and then sink more than a half-mile underwater in the Atlantic Ocean. The Meddies are shown in red in this scientific figure.
A recording current meter
A 1943 map of the world's ocean currents

Another example is Lima, Peru, where the climate is cooler, being sub-tropical, than the tropical latitudes in which the area is located, due to the effect of the Humboldt Current.

The sooty tern is highly aerial and marine and will spend months flying at sea, returning to land only for breeding.

Seabird

Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are birds that are adapted to life within the marine environment.

Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are birds that are adapted to life within the marine environment.

The sooty tern is highly aerial and marine and will spend months flying at sea, returning to land only for breeding.
The Cretaceous seabird Hesperornis
Cormorants, like this double-crested cormorant, have plumage that is partly wettable. This functional adaptation balances the competing requirement for thermoregulation against that of the need to reduce buoyancy.
Wilson's storm petrels pattering on the water's surface
An African penguin skeleton, showing the sternal keel that makes the species a strong diver and swimmer
Northern gannet pair "billing" during courtship; like all seabirds except the phalaropes they maintain a pair bond throughout the breeding season.
Common murres breed on densely packed colonies on offshore rocks, islands and cliffs.
Seabirds (mostly northern fulmars) flocking at a long-lining vessel
This crested auklet was oiled in Alaska during the spill of MV Selendang Ayu in 2004.
Depiction of a pelican with chicks on a stained glass window, Saint Mark's Church, Gillingham, Kent

The population of elegant terns, which nest off Baja California, splits after the breeding season with some birds travelling north to the Central Coast of California and some travelling as far south as Peru and Chile to feed in the Humboldt Current.

A school of large pelagic predator fish (bluefin trevally) sizing up a school of small pelagic prey fish (anchovies)

Pelagic fish

Pelagic fish live in the pelagic zone of ocean or lake waters – being neither close to the bottom nor near the shore – in contrast with demersal fish that do live on or near the bottom, and reef fish that are associated with coral reefs.

Pelagic fish live in the pelagic zone of ocean or lake waters – being neither close to the bottom nor near the shore – in contrast with demersal fish that do live on or near the bottom, and reef fish that are associated with coral reefs.

A school of large pelagic predator fish (bluefin trevally) sizing up a school of small pelagic prey fish (anchovies)
Herring reflectors are nearly vertical for camouflage from the side
Schooling threadfin, a coastal species
Oceanic fish inhabit the oceanic zone, which is the deep open water which lies beyond the continental shelves
Scale diagram of the layers of the pelagic zone
Most mesopelagic fishes are small filter feeders that ascend at night to feed in the nutrient rich waters of the epipelagic zone. During the day, they return to the dark, cold, oxygen-deficient waters of the mesopelagic where they are relatively safe from predators. Lanternfish account for as much as 65% of all deep sea fish biomass and are largely responsible for the deep scattering layer of the world's oceans.
Most of the rest of the mesopelagic fishes are ambush predators, such as this sabertooth fish. The sabertooth uses its telescopic, upward-pointing eyes to pick out prey silhouetted against the gloom above. Their recurved teeth prevent a captured fish from backing out.
The humpback anglerfish is a bathypelagic ambush predator, which attracts prey with a bioluminescent lure. It can ingest prey larger than itself, which it swallows with an inrush of water when it opens its mouth.
Many bristlemouth species, such as the "spark anglemouth" above, are also bathypelagic ambush predators that can swallow prey larger than themselves. They are among the most abundant of all vertebrate families.
Young, red flabby whalefish make nightly vertical migrations into the lower mesopelagic zone to feed on copepods. When males mature into adults, they develop a massive liver and then their jaws fuse shut. They no longer eat, but continue to metabolise the energy stored in their liver.
Giant grenadier, an elongate benthic fish with large eyes and well-developed lateral lines
Orange roughy
Patagonian toothfish
Cross-section of an ocean basin, note significant vertical exaggeration
Major ocean surface currents
Areas of upwelling in red
Pacific decadal anomalies – April 2008
Shortfin mako shark make long seasonal migrations. They appear to follow temperature gradients, and have been recorded travelling more than 4,500 km in one year.
The huge ocean sunfish, a true resident of the ocean epipelagic zone, sometimes drifts with the current, eating jellyfish
The giant whale shark, another resident of the ocean epipelagic zone, filter feeds on plankton, and periodically dives deep into the mesopelagic zone
Lanternfish are partial residents of the ocean epipelagic zone, during the day they hide in deep waters, but at night they migrate up to surface waters to feed
The Antarctic toothfish have large, upward looking eyes, adapted to detecting the silhouettes of prey fish.<ref>{{FishBase species|genus=Dissostichus|species=mawsoni|year=2009|month=August}}</ref>
The Barreleye has barrel-shaped, tubular eyes that generally are directed upward, but may be swivelled forward.<ref>Mystery Of Deep-sea Fish With Tubular Eyes And Transparent Head Solved ScienceDaily, 24 February 2009.</ref>
The stoplight loosejaw has a lower jaw one-quarter as long as its body. The jaw has no floor and is attached only by a hinge and a modified tongue bone. Large fang-like teeth in the front are followed by many small barbed teeth.<ref name="kenaley">{{cite journal|author=Kenaley, C.P|title=Revision of the Stoplight Loosejaw Genus Malacosteus (Teleostei: Stomiidae: Malacosteinae), with Description of a New Species from the Temperate Southern Hemisphere and Indian Ocean|journal=Copeia|volume=2007|issue=4|pages=886–900|year=2007|doi=10.1643/0045-8511(2007)7[886:ROTSLG]2.0.CO;2}}</ref><ref name="sutton">{{cite journal|author=Sutton, T.T.|title=Trophic ecology of the deep-sea fish Malacosteus niger (Pisces: Stomiidae): An enigmatic feeding ecology to facilitate a unique visual system?|journal=Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers|volume=52|issue=11|date=Nov 2005|pages=2065–2076|doi=10.1016/j.dsr.2005.06.011|bibcode=2005DSRI...52.2065S|url=https://nsuworks.nova.edu/occ_facpresentations/244}}</ref>
The stoplight loosejaw is also one of the few fishes that produce red bioluminescence. As most of their prey cannot perceive red light, this allows it to hunt with an essentially invisible beam of light.
Longnose lancetfish. Lancetfish are ambush predators that frequent the mesopelagic. They are among the largest mesopelagic fishes (up to 2 metres).<ref name="Moyle336">Moyle and Cech, p. 336</ref>
The telescopefish has large, forward-pointing telescoping eyes with large lenses.<ref>{{FishBase species|genus=Gigantura|species=chuni|year=2010|month=October}}</ref>
The daggertooth slashes other mesopelagic fish when it bites them with its dagger-like teeth.<ref>{{FishBase species|genus=Anotopterus|species=pharao|year=2010|month=April}}</ref>
Bigeye tuna cruise the epipelagic zone at night and the mesopelagic zone during the day.
A collection of mesopelagic forage fishes trawled from the Gulf of Mexico that includes Myctophids, larval anglerfishes, bristlemouths, and a barracudina
The gulper eel uses its mouth like a net by opening its large mouth and swimming at its prey. It has a luminescent organ at the tip of its tail to attract prey.
The black swallower, with its distensible stomach, is notable for its ability to swallow, whole, bony fishes ten times its mass.<ref name="jordan">{{cite book|title=A Guide to the Study of Fishes|url=https://archive.org/details/aguidetostudyfi02jordgoog|author=Jordan, D.S.|publisher=H. Holt and Company|year=1905}}</ref><ref>{{fishbase species|genus=Chiasmodon|species=niger|year=2009|month=August}}</ref>
Female Haplophryne mollis anglerfish trailing attached males that have atrophied into a pair of gonads, for use when the female is ready to spawn.
The widespread fangtooth has the largest teeth of any fish, proportionate to body size.<ref>{{FishBase species|genus = Anoplogaster|species = cornuta|month = August|year = 2009}}</ref> Despite their ferocious appearance, bathypelagic fish are usually weakly muscled and too small to represent any threat to humans.
The Sloane's viperfish can make nightly migrations from bathypelagic depths to near surface waters.<ref>{{FishBase species|genus= Chauliodus|species= sloani|year= 2010|month= April}}</ref>
Pacific hagfish resting on bottom. Hagfish coat themselves and any dead fish they find with noxious slime making them inedible to other species."
The tripodfish (Bathypterois grallator), a species of spiderfish, uses its fin extensions to "stand" on the bottom.<ref>{{FishBase species|genus=Bathypterois|species=grallator|year=2009|month=August}}</ref>
The blotched fantail ray feeds on bottom-dwelling fish, bivalves, crabs, and shrimps.<ref>{{fishbase species|genus=Taeniura|species=meyeni|month=August|year=2009}}</ref>
These schooling Pacific sardines are forage fish
Herrings ram feeding on copepods
Capelin
Anchovies
Peruvian anchoveta
Yellowfin tuna are being fished as a replacement for the now largely depleted Southern bluefin tuna
Atlantic pomfret
Swordfish
King mackerels cruise on long migrations at 10 kilometres per hour
The scalloped hammerhead is classified as endangered
The oceanic whitetip shark has declined by 99% in the Gulf of Mexico
The devil fish, a large ray, is threatened
The porbeagle shark is threatened

The anchoveta population was greatly reduced during the 1972 El Niño event, when warm water drifted over the cold Humboldt Current, as part of a 50-year cycle, lowering the depth of the thermocline.

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler (1843)

Alexander von Humboldt

German polymath, geographer, naturalist, explorer, and proponent of Romantic philosophy and science.

German polymath, geographer, naturalist, explorer, and proponent of Romantic philosophy and science.

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler (1843)
Humboldt as a boy with his widowed mother, Maria Elisabeth (Colomb) von Humboldt
The Tegel Palace, Berlin, where Alexander and his brother Wilhelm lived for several years
Schiller, Wilhelm, and Alexander von Humboldt with Goethe in Jena
Alexander von Humboldt's Latin American expedition
Charles IV of Spain who authorized Humboldt's travels and research in Spanish America
Portrait of Alexander von Humboldt by Friedrich Georg Weitsch, 1806
Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland were in the Amazon rainforest by the Casiquiare River, with their scientific instruments, which enabled them to take many types of accurate measurements throughout their five-year journey. Oil painting by Eduard Ender, 1856.
Map of the Cassiquiare canal based on Humboldt's 1799 observations
Humboldt botanical drawing published in his work on Cuba
Humboldt and his fellow scientist Aimé Bonpland near the foot of the Chimborazo volcano, painting by Friedrich Georg Weitsch (1810)
Silver mining complex of La Valenciana, Guanajuato, Mexico
Basalt prisms at Santa María Regla, Mexico by Alexander von Humboldt, published in Vue des Cordillères et monuments des peuples indigènes de l'Amérique
Aztec calendar stone
Dresden Codex, later identified as a Maya manuscript, published in part by Humboldt in 1810
1804 Map of the Louisiana Territory. Jefferson and his cabinet sought information from Humboldt when he visited Washington, D.C., about Spain's territory in Mexico, now bordering the U.S.
Humboldt depicted by American artist Charles Willson Peale, 1805, who met Humboldt when he visited the U.S. in 1804
Humboldt's Naturgemälde, also known as the Chimborazo Map, is his depiction of the volcanoes Chimborazo and Cotopaxi in cross section, with detailed information about plant geography. The illustration was published in The Geography of Plants, 1807, in a large format (54 cm x 84 cm). Largely used for global warming analyses, this map depicts in fact the vegetation of another volcano: the Antisana.
Isothermal map of the world using Humboldt's data by William Channing Woodbridge
Humboldt's depiction of an Andean condor, an example of his detailed drawing
Humboldt in Berlin 1807
Map of Humboldt's expedition to Russia in 1829
Photograph of Humboldt in his later years
Muisca numerals as noted by Humboldt
Humboldt, portrait by Henry William Pickersgill (1831)
Frederic Edwin Church, The Heart of the Andes (1859)
Humboldt's seal on a private letter
Portrait of Humboldt by Julius Schrader, 1859. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Humboldt in his library in his apartment, Oranienburger Straße, Berlin, by Eduard Hildebrandt
Signature of Humboldt late in life, when his handwriting became increasingly difficult to read
Humboldt University of Berlin
House where Humboldt and Bonpland lived in Mexico City in 1803, located at 80 Rep. de Uruguay in the historic centre, just south of the Zocalo
Statue to Humboldt in Alameda Park, Mexico City, erected 1999 on the two hundredth-anniversary of the beginning of his travels to Spanish America
Statue of Humboldt in Cuernavaca, Mexico
Waterfall over the Basaltic Prisms of Santa María Regla, Huasca de Ocampo, Hidalgo, Mexico, that Humboldt sketched
Ferdinand Bellermann, Rooster Salesman
Ferdinand Bellermann, Colonia Tovar
Ferdinand Bellermann, Sugar Plantation near Puerto Cabello
Ferdinand Bellermann. Llaneros (1843). Venezuela.<ref>Achenbach, Kunst um Humboldt, cat. 96, p. 141.</ref>
Eduard Hildebrandt, Passage with Indians (Brazil)
Frederic Edwin Church, Cotopaxi, (1855)
Frederic Edwin Church, Cotopaxi, 1855
Frederic Edwin Church, Cotopaxi (1862) (in eruption)
Humboldt penguin, native to Chile and Peru
Humboldt squid found in the Humboldt Current
Quercus humboldtii, an Andean oak
Humboldt Current
Pico Humboldt, Venezuela
1959 postage stamp from the Soviet Union
Bust at the University of Havana
Statue in Budapester Straße, Berlin
Statue in Humboldt Park, Chicago
Statue in Allegheny West Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Statue at Humboldt University of Berlin, describing him as "the second discoverer of Cuba"
Bust in Central Park, New York
Statue in Alameda Central, Mexico City
Monument in Parque El Ejido, Quito, Ecuador
Humboldt, part of a sculpture in Cologne, Germany
Statue in Tower Grove Park, St. Louis<ref>Andreas W. Daum, "Celebrating Humanism in St. Louis: The Origins of the Humboldt Statue in Tower Grove Park, 1859‒1878." Gateway Heritage: Quarterly Magazine of the Missouri Historical Society (Fall 1994), 48-58.</ref>

Humboldt Current – off the west coast of South America

Prevailing winds, sea currents and stationary cyclones near Chile

Climate of Chile

The climate of Chile comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale, extending across 38 degrees in latitude, making generalizations difficult.

The climate of Chile comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale, extending across 38 degrees in latitude, making generalizations difficult.

Prevailing winds, sea currents and stationary cyclones near Chile
Chile map of Köppen climate classification.
annual average temperatures of Chile
monthly mean temperatures of Chile
View toward the interior of Easter Island
Pan de Azúcar National Park in Atacama Desert
Mediterranean climate distribution in the Americas. Note that the map of Chile is turned upsidedown
Maritime influence makes some southern Andean valleys prone to snowfalls in winter such as in Curarrehue in the picture.

On a synoptic scale, the most important factors that control the climate in Chile are the Pacific Anticyclone, the southern circumpolar low pressure area, the cold Humboldt current, the Chilean Coast Range and the Andes Mountains.

Peru

Country in western South America.

Country in western South America.

Remains of a Caral/Norte Chico pyramid in the arid Supe Valley
Moche earrings depicting warriors, made of turquoise and gold (1–800 CE)
The citadel of Machu Picchu, an iconic symbol of pre-Columbian Peru
Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire
Main façade of the Lima Metropolitan Cathedral and the Archbishop's palace, Lima
The Battle of Ayacucho was decisive in ensuring Peruvian independence.
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The Battle of Angamos, during the War of the Pacific.
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Areas where the Shining Path was active in Peru.
Palacio de Gobierno, in Lima
The Congress of Peru, in Lima
A map of Peru's region and departments
The headquarters of the Andean Community is located in Lima
Peruvian marines in the VRAEM in 2019
Map of Köppen climate classification zones in Peru
Andean cock-of-the-rock, Peru's national bird
Real GDP per capita development of Peru
A proportional representation of Peru exports, 2019
Casa de Osambela, headquarters of the Academia Peruana de la Lengua (APL) in Lima
Quri Kancha and the Convent of Santo Domingo, Cusco
National University of San Marcos, Lima
Moche Nariguera depicting the Decapitator, gold with turquoise and chrysocolla inlays. Museo del Oro del Peru, Lima
'Quipus' were recording devices fashioned from strings historically used by a number of cultures in the region of Andean South America.
Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, Anonymous, Colonial Cusco Painting School, 17th–18th century
Ceviche is a popular lime-marinated seafood dish which originated in Peru.
Marinera Norteña

The combination of tropical latitude, mountain ranges, topography variations, and two ocean currents (Humboldt and El Niño) gives Peru a large diversity of climates.

Peruvian anchoveta

Species of fish of the anchovy family, Engraulidae, from the Southeast Pacific Ocean.

Species of fish of the anchovy family, Engraulidae, from the Southeast Pacific Ocean.

After a period of plenty in the late 1960s, the population was greatly reduced by overfishing and the 1972 El Niño event, when warm water drifted over the cold Humboldt Current and lowered the depth of the thermocline.