CAFA Publications

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Bering Sea dynamical downscaling: Environmental and lower trophic level responses to climate forcing in CMIP6

Project: The Alaska climate integrate modeling project phase 2: Building pathways to resilience, through evaluation of climate impacts, risk, and adaptation responses of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities in the Bering Sea, Alaska
Year: 2021

Author(s): Cheng, Wei, A. Hermann, A. Hollowed, K. Holsman, K. Kearney, D. Pilcher, C. Stock, K. Aydin


Project PI: Hollowed
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2021.104975

In this study we present projected changes in the Eastern Bering Sea shelf (EBS) biophysical processes in response to climate forcing scenarios from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Phase 6 (CMIP6). These changes are obtained by dynamical downscaling using a Bering Sea regional model. Surface atmospheric and ocean boundary forcing from three Earth System Models (ESMs) in CMIP6, and a low and a high emission scenario of Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP126 and SSP585) of each of the ESMs are considered. Ensemble mean results suggest that, contrary to an anticipated increase in ocean stratification under warming, diminishing ice cover in response to climate forcing and resultant reduced surface freshening weakens EBS stratification in the melt season. Modeled ensemble mean phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass on the EBS exhibits subsurface maxima during the growing season; the amplitude of these maxima decreases with warming, along with a reduction in primary productivity and oxygen concentration over much of the EBS water column. Phenology of both phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass on the EBS shifts earlier, leading to an increase (decrease) in biomass averaged between April–July (August–November), while annually averaged biomass decreases under warming. Projected changes of primary and secondary plankton biomass at the end of the 21st century are not well separated between the SSP126 and SSP585 scenario in light of the large across model spread under each scenario. The projected ensemble mean warming amplitude of the EBS summer bottom temperature is largely unchanged between results forced by the Coupled Model Intercomparison Phase 5 Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (CMIP5 RCP8.5) and CMIP6 SSP585 scenarios. Likewise, the reduction rate of annual mean phytoplankton and large zooplankton biomass are comparable between RCP8.5 and SSP585 projections, even though the absolute amplitudes of biomass are sensitive to modeling parameters such as the solar irradiance attenuation curve. Hence, within the Bering Sea dynamical downscaling framework, projected long-term warming trends in EBS bottom temperature and plankton biomass reduction rates are robust responses to climate forcing.

Biogeochemical Drivers Of Changing Hypoxia In The California Current Ecosystem

Project: From physics to fisheries: A social-ecological management strategy evaluation for the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem
Year: 2019

Author(s): Dussin, R, EN Curchitser, CA Stock, N Van Ooostende


Project PI: Jacox
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2019.05.013

Recent observations have revealed significant fluctuations in near-shore hypoxia in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE). These fluctuations have been linked to changes in the biogeochemical properties (e.g. oxygen and nutrient contents) of the oceanic source waters of the California Current upwelling, and projections suggest the potential for decreased oxygen and increased nutrients in the source water under climate change. We examine both the separate and combined influences of these projected changes through a sequence of perturbation experiments using a regional coupled ocean dynamics/biogeochemistry (BGC) model of the CCE. The direct effect of a projected 5% decline in source water oxygen is to expand the hypoxic area by 12.5% in winter to 22.5% in summer. This exceeds the impact of a +0.5% nitrate enrichment of source waters, which expands the hypoxic area by 6.5% to 12% via stimulation of nearshore Net Primary Productivity (NPP), increased organic matter export, and subsequent enhanced remineralization and dissolved oxygen (DO) consumption at depth. The combined effect of these perturbations consistently surpasses the sum of the individual impacts, leading to 20% to 32% more hypoxic area. The combined biogeochemical impact greatly exceeds the response resulting from a 10% strengthening in upwelling-favorable winds (+1% in hypoxic area) or the decreased oxygen solubility associated with a 2◦C ocean warming (+3%). These results emphasize the importance of improved constraints on dynamic biogeochemical changes projected along the boundaries of shelf ecosystems. While such changes are often viewed as secondary impacts of climate change relative to local warming or stratification changes, they may prove dominant drivers of coastal ecosystem change.

Bottom-up impacts of forecasted climate change on the eastern Bering Sea food web. Special Issue “Using Ecological Models to Support and Shape Environmental Policy Decisions”

Project: The Alaska climate integrate modeling project phase 2: Building pathways to resilience, through evaluation of climate impacts, risk, and adaptation responses of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities in the Bering Sea, Alaska
Year: 2021

Author(s): Whitehouse, G. A., K. Y. Aydin, A. B. Hollowed, K. K. Holsman, W. Cheng, A. Faig, A. C. Haynie, A. J. Hermann, K. A. Kearney, and A. E. Punt


Project PI: Hollowed
DOI: http://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.624301

Recent observations of record low winter sea-ice coverage and warming water temperatures in the eastern Bering Sea have signaled the potential impacts of climate change on this ecosystem, which have implications for commercial fisheries production. We investigate the impacts of forecasted climate change on the eastern Bering Sea food web through the end of the century under medium- and high-emissions climate scenarios in combination with a selection of fisheries management strategies by conducting simulations using a dynamic food web model. The outputs from three global earth system models run under two greenhouse gas emission scenarios were dynamically downscaled using a regional ocean and biogeochemical model to project ecosystem dynamics at the base of the food web. Four fishing scenarios were explored: status quo, no fishing, and two scenarios that alternatively assume increased fishing emphasis on either gadids or flatfishes. Annual fishery quotas were dynamically simulated by combining harvest control rules based on model-simulated stock biomass, while incorporating social and economic tradeoffs induced by the Bering Sea’s combined groundfish harvest cap. There was little predicted difference between the status quo and no fishing scenario for most managed groundfish species biomasses at the end of the century, regardless of emission scenario. Under the status quo fishing scenario, biomass projections for most species and functional groups across trophic levels showed a slow but steady decline toward the end of the century, and most groups were near or below recent historical (1991–2017) biomass levels by 2080. The bottom–up effects of declines in biomass at lower trophic levels as forecasted by the climate-enhanced lower trophic level modeling, drove the biomass trends at higher trophic levels. By 2080, the biomass projections for species and trophic guilds showed very little difference between emission scenarios. Our method for climate-enhanced food web projections can support fisheries managers by informing strategic guidance on the long-term impacts of ecosystem productivity shifts driven by climate change on commercial species and the food web, and how those impacts may interact with different fisheries management scenarios.

Challenges To Natural And Human Communities From Surprising Ocean Temperatures

Project: Climate velocity over the 21st century and its implications for fisheries management in the Northeast U.S.
Year: 2019

Author(s): Pershing, A. J., N. R. Record, B. S. Franklin, B. T. Kennedy, L. McClenachan, K. E. Mills, J. D. Scott, A. C. Thomas, and N. H. Wolff.


Project PI: Mills
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1901084116

The community of species, human institutions, and human activities at a given location have been shaped by historical conditions (both mean and variability) at that location. Anthropogenic climate change is now adding strong trends on top of existing natural variability. These trends elevate the frequency of “surprises”—conditions that are unexpected based on recent history. Here, we show that the frequency of surprising ocean temperatures has increased even faster than expected based on recent temperature trends. Using a simple model of human adaptation, we show that these surprises will increasingly challenge natural modes of adaptation that rely on historical experience. We also show that warming rates are likely to shift natural communities toward generalist species, reducing their productivity and diversity. Our work demonstrates increasing benefits for individuals and institutions from betting that trends will continue, but this strategy represents a radical shift that will be difficult for many to make.

Changes To The Structure And Function Of An Albacore Fishery Reveal Shifting Social–Ecological Realities For Pacific Northwest Fishermen

Project: From physics to fisheries: A social-ecological management strategy evaluation for the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem
Year: 2020

Author(s): Frawley T. H. et al


Project PI: Jacox
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12519

Marine fisheries around the globe are increasingly exposed to external drivers of social and ecological change. Though diversification and flexibility have historically helped marine resource users negotiate risk and adversity, much of modern fisheries management treats fishermen as specialists using specific gear types to target specific species. Here, we describe the evolution of harvest portfolios amongst Pacific Northwest fishermen over 35+ years with explicit attention to changes in the structure and function of the albacore (Thunnus alalunga, Scombridae) troll and pole-and-line fishery. Our analysis indicates that recent social–ecological changes have had heterogenous impacts upon the livelihood strategies favoured by different segments of regional fishing fleets. As ecological change and regulatory reform have restricted access to a number of fisheries, many of the regional small (<45 ft) and medium (45–60 ft) boat fishermen who continue to pursue diverse livelihood strategies have increasingly relied upon the ability to opportunistically target albacore in coastal waters while retaining more of the value generated by such catch. In contrast, large vessels (>60 ft) targeting albacore are more specialized now than previously observed, even as participation in multiple fisheries has become increasingly common for this size class. In describing divergent trajectories associated with the albacore fishery, one of the US West Coast's last open-access fisheries, we highlight the diverse strategies and mechanisms utilized to sustain fisheries livelihoods in the modern era while arguing that alternative approaches to management and licensing may be required to maintain the viability of small-scale fishing operations worldwide moving forward.Marine fisheries around the globe are increasingly exposed to external drivers of social and ecological change. Though diversification and flexibility have historically helped marine resource users negotiate risk and adversity, much of modern fisheries management treats fishermen as specialists using specific gear types to target specific species. Here, we describe the evolution of harvest portfolios amongst Pacific Northwest fishermen over 35+ years with explicit attention to changes in the structure and function of the albacore (Thunnus alalunga, Scombridae) troll and pole-and-line fishery. Our analysis indicates that recent social–ecological changes have had heterogenous impacts upon the livelihood strategies favoured by different segments of regional fishing fleets. As ecological change and regulatory reform have restricted access to a number of fisheries, many of the regional small (<45 ft) and medium (45–60 ft) boat fishermen who continue to pursue diverse livelihood strategies have increasingly relied upon the ability to opportunistically target albacore in coastal waters while retaining more of the value generated by such catch. In contrast, large vessels (>60 ft) targeting albacore are more specialized now than previously observed, even as participation in multiple fisheries has become increasingly common for this size class. In describing divergent trajectories associated with the albacore fishery, one of the US West Coast's last open-access fisheries, we highlight the diverse strategies and mechanisms utilized to sustain fisheries livelihoods in the modern era while arguing that alternative approaches to management and licensing may be required to maintain the viability of small-scale fishing operations worldwide moving forward.

Changes to the structure and function of the albacore fishery reveal shifting social-ecological realities for Pacific Northwest fishermen

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2021

Author(s): Frawley, T.H., Muhling, B.A., Brodie, S., Fisher, M.C., Tommasi, D., Le Fol, G., Hazen, E.L., Stohs, S.S., Finkbeiner, E.M. and Jacox, M.G.


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12519

Marine fisheries around the globe are increasingly exposed to external drivers of social and ecological change. Though diversification and flexibility have historically helped marine resource users negotiate risk and adversity, much of modern fisheries management treats fishermen as specialists using specific gear types to target specific species. Here, we describe the evolution of harvest portfolios amongst Pacific Northwest fishermen over 35+ years with explicit attention to changes in the structure and function of the albacore (Thunnus alalunga, Scombridae) troll and pole-and-line fishery. Our analysis indicates that recent social–ecological changes have had heterogenous impacts upon the livelihood strategies favoured by different segments of regional fishing fleets. As ecological change and regulatory reform have restricted access to a number of fisheries, many of the regional small (<45 ft) and medium (45–60 ft) boat fishermen who continue to pursue diverse livelihood strategies have increasingly relied upon the ability to opportunistically target albacore in coastal waters while retaining more of the value generated by such catch. In contrast, large vessels (>60 ft) targeting albacore are more specialized now than previously observed, even as participation in multiple fisheries has become increasingly common for this size class. In describing divergent trajectories associated with the albacore fishery, one of the US West Coast's last open-access fisheries, we highlight the diverse strategies and mechanisms utilized to sustain fisheries livelihoods in the modern era while arguing that alternative approaches to management and licensing may be required to maintain the viability of small-scale fishing operations worldwide moving forward.

Changes To The Structure And Function Of The Albacore Fishery Reveal Shifting Social-Ecological Realities For Pacific Northwest Fishermen

Project: From physics to fisheries: A social-ecological management strategy evaluation for the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem
Year: 2021

Author(s): Frawley, T, et al


Project PI: Jacox
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12519

Marine fisheries around the globe are increasingly exposed to external drivers of social and ecological change. Though diversification and flexibility have historically helped marine resource users negotiate risk and adversity, much of modern fisheries management treats fishermen as specialists using specific gear types to target specific species. Here, we describe the evolution of harvest portfolios amongst Pacific Northwest fishermen over 35+ years with explicit attention to changes in the structure and function of the albacore (Thunnus alalunga, Scombridae) troll and pole-and-line fishery. Our analysis indicates that recent social–ecological changes have had heterogenous impacts upon the livelihood strategies favoured by different segments of regional fishing fleets. As ecological change and regulatory reform have restricted access to a number of fisheries, many of the regional small (<45 ft) and medium (45–60 ft) boat fishermen who continue to pursue diverse livelihood strategies have increasingly relied upon the ability to opportunistically target albacore in coastal waters while retaining more of the value generated by such catch. In contrast, large vessels (>60 ft) targeting albacore are more specialized now than previously observed, even as participation in multiple fisheries has become increasingly common for this size class. In describing divergent trajectories associated with the albacore fishery, one of the US West Coast's last open-access fisheries, we highlight the diverse strategies and mechanisms utilized to sustain fisheries livelihoods in the modern era while arguing that alternative approaches to management and licensing may be required to maintain the viability of small-scale fishing operations worldwide moving forward.

Climate change and the future productivity and distribution of crab in the Bering Sea

Project: The Alaska climate integrate modeling project phase 2: Building pathways to resilience, through evaluation of climate impacts, risk, and adaptation responses of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities in the Bering Sea, Alaska
Year: 2021

Author(s): Szuwalski, C.S., W. Cheng, R. Foy, A. Hermann, A. Hollowed, K. Holsman, J. Lee, W. Stockhausen, J. Zheng.


Project PI: Hollowed
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2021.104951

Crab populations in the eastern Bering Sea support some of the most valuable fisheries in the United States, but their future productivity and distribution are uncertain. We explore observed changes in the productivity and distribution for snow crab, Tanner crab, and Bristol Bay red king crab. We link historical indices of environmental variation and predator biomass with observed time series of centroids of abundance and extent of crab stock distribution; we also fit stock–recruit curves including environmental indices for each stock. We then project these relationships under forcing from global climate models to forecast potential productivity and distribution scenarios. Our results suggest that the productivity of snow crab is negatively related to the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and positively related to ice cover; Tanner crab’s productivity and distribution are negatively associated with cod biomass and sea surface temperature. Aspects of red king crab distribution and productivity appear to be related to bottom temperature, ice cover, the AO, and/or cod biomass. Projecting these relationships forward with available forecasts suggests that Tanner crab may become more productive and shift further offshore, red king crab distribution may contract and move north, and productivity may decrease for snow crab as the population contracts northward.

Climate Change May Cause Shifts In Growth And Instantaneous Natural Mortality Of American Shad Throughout Their Native Range

Project: Climate velocity over the 21st century and its implications for fisheries management in the Northeast U.S.
Year: 2021

Author(s): Gilligan Lunda, E. K., Stich, D. S., Mills, K. E., Bailey, M. M., & Zydlewski, J. D.


Project PI: Mills
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/tafs.10299

American Shad (Alosa sapidissima) is an anadromous species with populations ranging along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Past American Shad stock assessments have been data limited and estimating system-specific growth parameters or instantaneous natural mortality (M) was not possible. This precluded system-specific stock assessment and management due to reliance on these parameters for estimating other population dynamics (such as yield per recruit). Furthermore, climate-informed biological reference points remain a largely unaddressed need in American Shad stock assessment. Population abundance estimates of American Shad and other species often rely heavily on M derived from von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF) parameters. Therefore, we developed Bayesian hierarchical models to estimate coastwide, regional, and system-specific VBGF parameters and M using data collected from 1982 to 2017. We tested predictive performance of models that included effects of various climate variables on VBGF parameters within these models. System-specific models were better supported than regional or coast-wide models. Mean asymptotic length (L∞) decreased with increasing mean annual sea surface temperature (SST) and degree days (DD) experienced by fish during their lifetime. Although uncertain, K (Brody growth coefficient) decreased over the same range of lifetime SST and DD. Assuming no adaptation, we projected changes in VBGF parameters and M through 2099 using modeled SST from two climate projection scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 and 8.5). We predicted reduced growth under both scenarios, and M was projected to increase by about 0.10. It is unclear how reduced growth and increased mortality may influence population productivity or life history adaptation in the future, but our results may inform stock assessment models to assess those trade-offs.American Shad Alosa sapidissima is an anadromous species with populations ranging along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Past American Shad stock assessments have been data limited and estimating system-specific growth parameters or instantaneous natural mortality (M) was not possible. This precluded system-specific stock assessment and management due to reliance on these parameters for estimating other population dynamics (such as yield per recruit). Furthermore, climate-informed biological reference points remain a largely unaddressed need in American Shad stock assessment. Population abundance estimates of American Shad and other species often rely heavily on M derived from von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF) parameters. Therefore, we developed Bayesian hierarchical models to estimate coastwide, regional, and system-specific VBGF parameters and M using data collected from 1982 to 2017. We tested predictive performance of models that included effects of various climate variables on VBGF parameters within these models. System-specific models were better supported than regional or coast-wide models. Mean asymptotic length (L∞) decreased with increasing mean annual sea surface temperature (SST) and degree days (DD) experienced by fish during their lifetime. Although uncertain, K (Brody growth coefficient) decreased over the same range of lifetime SST and DD. Assuming no adaptation, we projected changes in VBGF parameters and M through 2099 using modeled SST from two climate projection scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 and 8.5). We predicted reduced growth under both scenarios, and M was projected to increase by about 0.10. It is unclear how reduced growth and increased mortality may influence population productivity or life history adaptation in the future, but our results may inform stock assessment models to assess those trade-offs.

Climate Change May Cause Shifts In Growth And Instantaneous Natural Mortality Of American Shad Throughout Their Native Range

Project: Understanding climate impacts on American shad recovery, fisheries management, and influences of dams
Year: 2021

Author(s): Gilligan‐Lunda, Erin K., Daniel S. Stich, Katherine E. Mills, Michael M. Bailey, and Joseph D. Zydlewski


Project PI: Stich
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/tafs.10299

American Shad Alosa sapidissima is an anadromous species with populations ranging along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Past American Shad stock assessments have been data limited and estimating system-specific growth parameters or instantaneous natural mortality (M) was not possible. This precluded system-specific stock assessment and management due to reliance on these parameters for estimating other population dynamics (such as yield per recruit). Furthermore, climate-informed biological reference points remain a largely unaddressed need in American Shad stock assessment. Population abundance estimates of American Shad and other species often rely heavily on M derived from von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF) parameters. Therefore, we developed Bayesian hierarchical models to estimate coastwide, regional, and system-specific VBGF parameters and M using data collected from 1982 to 2017. We tested predictive performance of models that included effects of various climate variables on VBGF parameters within these models. System-specific models were better supported than regional or coast-wide models. Mean asymptotic length (L∞) decreased with increasing mean annual sea surface temperature (SST) and degree days (DD) experienced by fish during their lifetime. Although uncertain, K (Brody growth coefficient) decreased over the same range of lifetime SST and DD. Assuming no adaptation, we projected changes in VBGF parameters and M through 2099 using modeled SST from two climate projection scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 and 8.5). We predicted reduced growth under both scenarios, and M was projected to increase by about 0.10. It is unclear how reduced growth and increased mortality may influence population productivity or life history adaptation in the future, but our results may inform stock assessment models to assess those trade-offs.



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Upcoming webinar: Great Lakes Water Levels and Stormwater Management

  • 4 August 2020

Event date: 8/13/2020 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM Export event

On Thursday, August 13 from 12-1:15pm ET, Antioch University New England, NOAA, and the CPO-managed U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit will host a webinar for an exploration of some of the opportunities and challenges for addressing flooding and stormwater management in communities surrounding the Great Lakes. 

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Great Lakes Water Levels and Coastal Impacts

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Vulnerability to Heightened Lake Levels in Wisconsin

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