Reported trends in the mean and variability of coastal upwelling in eastern boundary currents have raised concerns about the future of these highly productive and biodiverse marine ecosystems. However, the instrumental records on which these estimates are based are insufficiently long to determine whether such trends exceed preindustrial limits. In the California Current, a 576-year reconstruction of climate variables associated with winter upwelling indicates that variability increased over the latter 20th century to levels equaled only twice during the past 600 years. This modern trend in variance may be unique, because it appears to be driven by an unprecedented succession of extreme, downwelling-favorable, winter climate conditions that profoundly reduce productivity for marine predators of commercial and conservation interest. Copyright
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© 2014 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.