Characterizing uncertainty in climate impact projections: Morley et al. paper out in ICES JoMS

Ensemble mean projections across 18 Earth system models and 6 niche models for the RCP 8.5 scenario for Pacific halibut (a, b), Pacific ocean perch (c, d), summer flounder (e, f), and American lobster (g, h). For each species, the left panel shows projected suitable habitat for the initial time period of 2007–2020, and the intensity of the blue represents habitat suitability while grey represents areas of the projection grid that are not suitable. The right panels show projected change in habitat suitability between the 2081–2100 time period and 2007–2020. For the right panels, red represents a decline in habitat suitability, blue represents increases in habitat suitability, and grey represents areas of no change; increasing intensity of blue (red) represents a proportionally greater increase (decrease) in habitat suitability.

Former Pinsky Lab Post-doc, Dr. Jim Morley, collaborator, Dr. Thomas Fro¨licher, and Dr. Malin Pinsky assessed and quantified the uncertainty in climate impact projections in their new paper out in ICES Journal of Marine Science. Using a case study approach, the team conducted 8964 unique projections for shifts in suitable habitat of seven important marine species occurring on the North American continental shelf, including American Lobster, Pacific Halibut, Pacific Ocean Perch, and Summer Flounder. They found that projection uncertainty arose from Earth system models (ESMs), and the niche modelling approach used to represent species distributions for all species, but variation associated with the parameter values in niche models was insignificant. Greenhouse gas emissions scenario contributed to uncertainty for projections at the century scale. The characteristics of projection uncertainty differed among species and also varied spatially, which underscores the need for improved multi-model approaches with a suite of ESMs and niche models forming the basis for uncertainty around projected impacts. Ensemble projections show the potential for major shifts in future distributions. Therefore, rigorous future projections are important for informing climate adaptation efforts.

Read the full article here.