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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

ABSTRACT:  The ACLIM Phase 2 project extends an existing fisheries and climate program (ACLIM) to understand and project climate impacts on fish stocks and fisheries to inform management and sustain fisheries in the Eastern Bering Sea (EBS). Despite historical resilience to natural fluctuations, fish, fisheries, and fisheries managers in Alaska are increasingly challenged by a rapidly changing environment. Of particular and pressing concern, the EBS recently experienced extreme warming and a rapid decrease in ice extent and duration with profound cascading impacts on physical and biological conditions, including rapid and extensive ~1000 km poleward shifts in spatial distribution and declines in abundance for multiple crab  and fish stocks. The confluence of rapid environmental change and imperative needs for climate- informed pathways toward equitable, sustainable living marine resource management, provides  impetus for this proposal.

The ACLIM Phase 2 project will promote climate-resilient fisheries and coastal communities in the Bering Sea through the delivery of integrated climate-informed decision making and ecosystem-based fisheries management. This 3-yr integrated research program will extend the scientific foundation for sustainable and climate-informed fisheries management of groundfish and crab fisheries of the EBS through evaluation of a suite of models under climate and management scenarios. The multidisciplinary team of ACLIM will be expanded to include additional expertise on physical oceanography, marine mammals, spatial ecosystem dynamics, and social modeling. It builds on the existing regionally-focused, integrated climate, ecological, and socio-economic modeling system to fully evaluate the effects of, and tradeoffs in, adaptation strategies to support NMFS mandates under the Magnuson Stevens, Marine Mammal Protection, and Endangered Species Acts for managed resources in the EBS. ACLIM Phase 2 will: 1) expand the current modeling suite developed for the southeastern Bering Sea to the northern Bering Sea by coupling spatial distribution and foodweb tools (e.g., VAST, delta GAMs, EOFs) to biological models; 2) expand the suite of key species evaluated in management strategy evaluations to include species important for commercial and subsistence harvest; 3) expand socio-economic models through social network information, couple those to ecosystem and stock projection models, and provide community-level projections of changes in food and nutritional security, risk and tradeoffs, which are critical for decision making; 4) expand the regional ocean model hind-casts and projections to include  high-resolution ocean acidification and O2 dynamics for biological models and improve spatial nesting of physics and biogeochemistry; 5) support regular Council, community, and stakeholder scenario workshops in coordination with the Bering Sea Fisheries Ecosystem Plan to support climate-resilient decision making and tradeoff evaluations. These five objectives will be accomplished through six integrated focal components that include a) high resolution regional ocean modeling, b) biophysical model verification, c) ecological, foodweb, and marine mammal modeling, d) economic modeling, e) social-modeling, and f) among-model ensemble evaluation.

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