Oceans and marine resources in a changing climate

The United States is an ocean nation — our past, present, and future are inextricably connected to and dependent on oceans and marine resources. Marine ecosystems provide many important services, including jobs, food, transportation routes, recreational opportunities, health benefits, climate regulation, and cultural heritage that affect people, communities, and economies across the United States and internationally every day. There is a wealth of information documenting the strong linkages between the planet’s climate and ocean systems, as well as how changes in the climate system can produce changes in the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of ocean ecosystems on a variety of spatial and temporal scales. There is relatively little information on how these climate-driven changes in ocean ecosystems may have an impact on ocean services and uses, although it is predicted that ocean-dependent users, communities, and economies will likely become increasingly vulnerable in a changing climate. Based on our current understanding and future projections of the planet’s ocean systems, it is likely that marine ecosystems will continue to be affected by anthropogenic-driven climate change into the future. This review describes how these impacts are set in motion through a suite of changes in ocean physical, chemical, and biological components and processes in U.S. waters and the significant implications of these changes for ocean users and the communities and economies that depend on healthy oceans. U.S. international partnerships, management challenges, opportunities, and knowledge gaps are also discussed. Effectively preparing for and responding to climate-driven changes in the ocean will require both limiting future change through reductions of greenhouse gases and adapting to the changes that we can no longer avoid.

Howard J., Babij E., Griffis R., Helmuth  B., Himes-Cornell A., Niemier P., Orbach M., Petes L., Allen S., Auad G., Beard  R., Boatman M., Bond N., Boyer T., Brown D., Clay P., Crane K., Cross S., Dalton M., Diamond J., Diaz R., Dortch Q., Duffy E., Fauquier D., Fisher W., Graham M., Halpern B., Hansen L., Hayum B., Herrick S., Hollowed  A., Hutchins D., Jewett E., Jin D., Knowlton N., Kotowicz D., Kristiansen T., Little P., Lope C., Loring P., Lumpkin R., Mace A., Mengerink K., Morrison J. R., Murray J., Norman K., O’donnell J., Overland J., Parsons R., Pettigrew N., Pfeiffer L., Pidgeon E., Plummer M., Polovina J., Quintrell J., Rowles T., Runge J., Rust M., Sanford E., Send U., Singer M., Speir C., Stanitski D., Thornber C., Wilson C. & Xue Y., 2013. Oceans and marine resources in a changing climate. Oceanography and Marine Biology 51: 71-192. Article (restricted access).

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