New Report Summarizes Climate Change Impacts on U.S. Oceans, Marine Resources
An abridged version of the report is being published on September 2 in Oceanography and Marine Biology, available at http://bit.ly/16Ovrk0.
A full-length version of the report is also being published by Island Press in conjunction with the nine other regional National Climate Assessment Technical Inputs. The report is available online at www.islandpress.org/nca.
This report provided technical input for development of the Oceans and Marine Resources chapter of the National Climate Assessment to be released in early 2014. For more information see http://www.globalchange.gov/what-we-do/assessment.
August 27, 2013
According to a technical report prepared for the 2013 National Climate Assessment, the nation’s valuable ocean ecosystems and marine resources are already being affected by a changing climate. These impacts are expected to increase in the coming years, putting marine resources—and the people and economies that depend on them—at high risk in a changing world.
Sixty-three experts from NOAA and other federal, academic, and nongovernmental organizations collaborated on Oceans and Marine Resources in a Changing Climate—a comprehensive look at our current understanding of the effects of climate change on the oceans and marine ecosystems under U.S. jurisdiction. It reviews how climate variability is affecting the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of ocean ecosystems, and how these changes are already having societal impacts by affecting fisheries and other valuable ocean products and services. It also synthesizes information on projected climate-driven changes in U.S. ocean ecosystems over the next 25 to 100 years.
Oceans and Marine Resources in a Changing Climate is designed to help marine resource managers, communities, and businesses understand, prepare for, and respond to climate impacts on U.S. ocean ecosystems. It details the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, and then summarizes what is known about how those changes will affect human uses of marine ecosystems. The report also examines some of the key international implications of climate impacts on ocean ecosystems for the United States (e.g., impacts on seafood supply, international fishing agreements, and protected species conservation), and gives examples on how to prepare for and adapt to these impacts. Some of the report’s key findings include:
- Because the physiological responses of organisms vary, climate change can have positive, negative, or null effects on species with different tolerances, so that both “winners” and “losers” are likely to emerge.
- Species ranges are shifting toward the poles and the rate of this shift is greater for marine organisms than for terrestrial ones.
- The societal impacts of climate change are enormous, affecting all sectors pertaining to human uses of the ocean, including fisheries, energy, transportation, security, human health, tourism, and maritime governance. These changes will require reassessment of governance regimes for ocean environments.
- Climate change will demand new international partnerships to ensure that management plans are coordinated for shared marine resources.
- Significant gaps remain in our knowledge of climate impacts on ocean ecosystems. We need to better understand the interactions between ocean environmental systems and ocean uses to be able to project and respond to future climate-driven changes.
The report concludes that marine ecosystems likely will continue to be affected—in most cases negatively—by anthropogenic-driven climate change and rising levels of atmospheric CO2. The authors identified a number of knowledge gaps to help guide future research and action to reduce the impacts of climate change on ocean ecosystems, marine resources, and the people and businesses that depend on them.