Climate Change Threatens Commercial Fishers From Maine to North Carolina – Rogers et al. article in Nature Climate Change

Lobster boats anchored off Cutler, Maine.
Photo: Malin Pinsky/Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Drs. Lauren Rogers, Robert Griffin, Talia Young, Emma Fuller, Kevin St. Martin, and Malin Pinsky collaborated on a paper which seeks to understand how climate change will likely affect the fishing opportunities for 85 communities in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. The team integrated climatic, ecological and socio-economic data to identify where strategies for adapting to the ecological impacts of climate change will be most needed. They used 13 global climate models to project how ocean temperatures are likely to change, then examined ocean temperatures and types of bottom habitat to determine where important commercial fisheries species are likely to move. They also looked at whether the species caught by fishing communities are likely to become more or less abundant in the ocean regions where they typically fish.

Read more about the paper from the news outlets below:

Climate Change Hits Sea Creatures Hardest: Malin et al.’s new paper in Nature [edit: and the cover!]

Pinsky et al. 2019 makes the cover of Nature!

Malin and coauthors, Drs. Anna Eikeset, Doug McCauley, Jonathan Payne, and Jennifer Sunday, published a paper on April 24th, 2019 on the vulnerability of marine versus terrestrial ectotherms. While the vulnerability of marine and terrestrial fauna have each been studied in isolation, a direct comparison of marine and terrestrial organisms physiological sensitivity to warming has yet to occur.

The team used species’ thermal safety margin (the difference between the hottest temperature that an organism can safely tolerate, and its hottest hourly body temperature when in the coolest part of their environment) as a tool to directly compare ocean and land dwelling species. This metric approximates the amount of additional warming a species can tolerate. They calculated this metric for 88 marine and 299 terrestrial species, and found that marine species are more likely to live close to their upper thermal limit than terrestrial species. Terrestrial species also have greater access to thermal refugia (cooler places found within their habitat), such as shaded or subterranean areas. Both of these factors make marine organisms more sensitive to warming than their terrestrial counterparts.

Click here to read the full paper (free access here), and here to read the Rutgers press release.

Key figure from Pinsky et al. 2019

Additional Press Coverage:

Fisheries’ decline due to ocean warming published in Science

Chris Free, Malin, Olaf Jensen, and co-authors recently published an article on fisheries decline in Science. The study found that climate change has already taken a toll on many of the world’s fisheries, and overfishing has magnified the problem. Ocean warming led to an estimated 4.1 percent drop in sustainable catches, on average, for many species of fish and shellfish from 1930 to 2010. In five regions of the world, including the East China Sea and North Sea, the estimated decline was 15 percent to 35 percent, the study says.

The team combined global data on fisheries with ocean temperature maps to estimate temperature-driven changes in the the maximum sustainable yield from 1930 to 2010. Their analysis covered about one third of the reported global catch, and losing species outweighed the winners as the oceans warmed.

Haddock in the North Sea are among the climate change “losers” as a result of warming ocean temperatures. Photo: NEFSC/NOAA Scientists at Rutgers–New Brunswick and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studied the impact of ocean warming on 235 populations of 124 species in 38 ecological regions around the world. Species included fish, crustaceans such as shrimp, and mollusks such as sea scallops. High Res

Press coverage:

Ocean currents shape the geography of life in the Coral Triangle

Coral dispersal in an oceanographic model for the western tropical Pacific

In a new paper published online today in Progress in Oceanography, Diane Thompson and collaborators (including Malin) show how ocean currents transport coral larvae throughout the western Tropical Pacific, and how the barriers posed by these currents have helped shape where species are found.

Link for free access until July 27, 2018 is here.

Thompson, D., J. Kleypas, F. Castruccio, E. Curchitser, M. L. Pinsky, B. Jönsson, and J. Watson (2018). Variability in oceanographic barriers to coral larval dispersal: do currents shape biodiversity? Progress in Oceanography 165: 110-122 doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2018.05.007

Climate change, wealth, and a fishy example

IMGP0176With a great set of co-authors, including Eli Fenichel at Yale, we just published a paper in Nature Climate Change showing how to measure the impacts of climate change on wealth. Our previous work, including this, has shown how climate pushes natural resources around. In this new paper, we show that those movements change who gets access to resources, and how those movements affect wealth. As important, or even more important, than the quantity of resources, however, is the quality of a region’s resource management, existing institutions, and fishing regulations. Places with strong resource management stand to gain the most from climate-driven changes in resource distribution.

To make these points, we use a hypothetical example with two fishing ports.

This is one of the initial publications from our NSF Coastal SEES grant examining the impacts of climate change on fish and fisheries.

The paper is getting a bit of press as well:

Come see us at Ocean Sciences!

OSM_2016Nearly the whole lab and many collaborators will be at Ocean Sciences in New Orleans next week talking about our work!



Projecting the future of the ocean

It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, as the saying goes. However, there’s important science to be done trying to reduce those uncertainties for life in the ocean. We have a new paper out today in the ICES Journal of Marine Science to chart that course, from a collaboration with William Cheung and a wonderful group of colleagues in the Nereus program, “Building confidence in projections of the responses of living marine resources to climate change.”Cheungetal2015_Fig2

This figure shows three of the key sources of uncertainty in any projection, using sea surface temperature as an example: the model used to make the projection (blue), the climate change scenario followed (green), and irreducible variability in the model (orange). The graph shows how natural variability dominates over the next couple decades, but the scenario of greenhouse gas emissions is very important by the end of the century.