Ocean and coastal indicators: understanding and coping with climate change at the land-sea interface

The U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) encompasses approximately 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean and a coastline of over 12,300 miles. Along with the Great Lakes, this vast area generates ~US 370 billion of U.S. gross domestic product, 617 billion in sales and 2.6 million jobs each year. These ocean and coastal ecosystems also provide many important non-market services including subsistence food provisioning, health benefits, shoreline protection, climate regulation, conservation of marine biodiversity, and preservation of cultural heritage. As climatic changes occur, these benefits or ecosystem services may be significantly reduced or in some cases enhanced. These services are also under an array of pressures including over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution, and land use changes that occur simultaneously in synergistic, multiplicative, or antagonistic ways. This results in direct and indirect impacts that are often unpredictable across spatial and temporal scales. Here, we discuss a set of indicators designed in close collaboration with the U.S. National Climate Indicators System. Tracking the impacts via indicators will be essential to ensure long-term health of the marine environment and sustain the benefits to stakeholders who depend on marine ecosystem services.

Clay P. M., Howard J., Busch D. S., Colburn L. L., Himes-Cornell A., Rumrill S. S., Zador S. G. & Griffis R. B., 2020. Ocean and coastal indicators: understanding and coping with climate change at the land-sea interface. Climatic Change 163: 1773-1793. Article (subscription required).

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