Climate Impacts on U.S. Living Marine Resources: National ... Climate Impacts on U.S. Living Marine

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  • Climate Impacts on U.S. Living Marine Resources: National Marine Fisheries Service Concerns, Activities and Needs K. E. Osgood (editor)

    U.S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-F/SPO-89 August 2008

  • Climate Impacts on U.S. Living Marine Resources: National Marine Fisheries Service Concerns, Activities and Needs K. E. Osgood (editor) NOAA Fisheries – Office of Science and Technology NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-F/SPO-89 August 2008

    U.S. Department of Commerce Carlos M. Gutiérrez, Secretary National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., USN (Ret.) Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere National Marine Fisheries Service James W. Balsiger, Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries

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    Suggested citation: Osgood, K. E. (editor). 2008. Climate Impacts on U.S. Living Marine Resources: National Marine Fisheries Service Concerns, Activities and Needs. U.S. Dep. Commerce, NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS- F/SPO-89, 118 p. A copy of this report may be obtained from: Office of Science & Technology NOAA, NMFS 1315 East-West Highway, F/ST7 Silver Spring, MD 20910 Or online at: http://spo.nmfs.noaa.gov/tm/

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    Preface The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is a subagency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NMFS is responsible for the science-based management, conservation, and protection of living marine resources within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and within the international arena. In regions where NMFS has living marine resource management responsibilities, it conducts assessments of living marine resources and their environment through numerous monitoring and research programs. Currently, most of these programs do not account for the climate impacts on the ecosystems. This Climate Impacts on Living Marine Resources document was conceived to identify the regional climate related ecosystem impacts which concern NMFS. The document contains an introduction which presents an overview of the major categories of climate impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems, followed by chapters focused on the individual regional marine ecosystems for which NMFS has management responsibilities. The regional chapters highlight the major climate related ecosystem concerns of each regional ecosystem, what NMFS is currently doing to address these concerns, and what NMFS must do to adequately address these concerns. In addition, these chapters identify the climate information that will be required for NMFS to address these concerns. This document draws upon the NOAA planning process, addressing many of the categories of climate impacts that have been identified within the NOAA program planning process. However, it is NMFS specific in that it is focused on living marine resources and the climate impacts that NMFS should be addressing in order to meet its mandates. NMFS scientists who examine environmental impacts on living marine resources at each of the regional fishery science centers contributed to, and set the priorities for, the regional ecosystem sections. These scientists frequently interact with NMFS’s partners and constituents in order to identify and advance our understanding of important issues. This plan augments the NMFS Strategic Plan for Fisheries Research (NMFS, 2007) by providing detailed information on NMFS responsibilities and needs with respect to climate change. NMFS. 2007. NMFS strategic plan for fisheries research. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech.

    Memo. NMFS F/SPO-80, 170 p.

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    Executive Summary With the increasing recognition that climate change is occurring and having large impacts on living marine resources, a sound ecosystem approach to management of those resources requires both understanding how climate affects ecosystems and integration of that understanding into management processes. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must identify how changing climatic conditions will impact its mission and must be prepared to adapt to these changes. This document identifies the climate related ecosystem concerns in the regional marine ecosystems for which NMFS has living marine resource management responsibilities, what NMFS is currently doing to address these concerns, what NMFS must do going forward to address these concerns, and what climate information is needed to integrate climate into resource management. The regional ecosystems included in this analysis are: the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf; the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean; the California Current Ecosystem; the Alaskan Ecosystem Complex; the Pacific Island Ecosystem Complex; the Eastern Tropical Pacific; North Pacific Highly Migratory Species; and the Antarctic. Major Climate Induced Ecosystem Concerns All regions for which NMFS has living marine resource management responsibilities identified some aspect of climate impacts on ecosystem productivity, phenology and species distributions as a major climate related ecosystem concern. Different aspects of this concern are deemed most critical in the separate regions, as denoted by the distinct concern names within the regional chapters. Decadal scale variability and long term changes (e.g. warming) were identified as major ecosystem concerns in all regions. Impacts identified include effects on productivity, species distributions, recruitment, community structure, and timing of biological events. These impacts indicate broad climate caused changes on marine ecosystems. For ecosystem concerns related to long-term changes including warming, all regions are likely to experience environmental conditions that have not been experienced before. In the California Current, Pacific Islands, Eastern Tropical Pacific, and for North Pacific Highly Migratory Species, the biological effects of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycles were identified as an important factor. For ecosystem concerns related to climate variations such as ENSO, North Atlantic Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the timing and strength of upwelling, it is important to determine how these climate variations affect the ecosystems and to know how long term climate change will impact the climate variability patterns. The loss of sea ice is a major concern for regions of the Alaskan Ecosystem Complex and the Antarctic. The presence of sea ice is a key factor that influences the structure of these ecosystems; and sea ice extent and duration is diminishing in many areas. Sea ice provides habitat for ice dependent animals, serves as a refuge for some fish species, contains algal communities that provide food during the winter to juvenile krill in the Antarctic, and plays an important role in the timing of spring phytoplankton blooms and the balance between pelagic and benthic productivity in the Bering Sea. As sea ice retreats, species distributions are changing, reflecting the altered habitat. In addition, as ice melts, freshwater is added to marine ecosystems. Along the Northeast U.S., salinity variability on the shelf is linked to freshwater input from the Arctic and melting of sea ice. Altered freshwater systems, due to increased air temperatures and changes in the timing, amount and type (i.e. rain vs. snow) of precipitation, are a major climate induced ecosystem

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    concern for the California Current Ecosystem. The focus is on anadramous fish such as salmon that use river systems and coastal regions for habitat. The primary concerns center on altered stream flows and warmer temperatures affecting survival and passage through tributaries, and changes in coastal ocean habitat quality and productivity due to altered freshwater input. Changes to freshwater input are also important in other regions where species depend upon coastal habitat or coastal currents which are influenced by freshwater input. Ocean acidification, caused by the oceans absorbing large portions of the carbon dioxide that is being released into the atmosphere by human activities, is a major concern for many of the regional ecosystems. Regions of the northern North Pacific Ocean and the Southern Ocean around Antarctica are predicted to be among the first areas to have their surface waters become undersaturated with respect to aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate utilized by some marine organisms, due to ocean acidification. Likely impacts include reduced growth and survival of commercially important shellfish, reduced fitness and abundance of ecologically important prey (e.g. pteropods, euphausiids) of commercial fish species, and direct effects on commercially important fish species and coldwater corals. In tropical and subtropical regions, including the Pacific Islands and the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Caribbean, the potential direct effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs is a primary concern. Coral reefs are susceptible to ocean acidification because reef calcification, and hence growth and survival, depends on the saturation state of carbonate minerals in the surface waters. Bleaching of shallow water corals, caused primarily by high temperature events, is another major climate induced ecosystem concern for the Pacific Island and Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Caribbean regions and adds to the stress on these corals caused by ocean acidification. When the temperature toleranc