Posts Tagged 'mitigation'

Using integrated, ecosystem-level management to address intensifying ocean acidification and hypoxia in the California Current large marine ecosystem

Ocean acidification is intensifying and hypoxia is projected to expand in the California Current large marine ecosystem as a result of processes associated with the global emission of CO2. Observed changes in the California Current outpace those in many other areas of the ocean, underscoring the pressing need to adopt management approaches that can accommodate uncertainty and the complicated dynamics forced by accelerating change. We argue that changes occurring in the California Current large marine ecosystem provide opportunities and incentives to adopt an integrated, systems-level approach to resource management to preserve existing ecosystem services and forestall abrupt change. Practical options already exist to maximize the benefits of management actions and ameliorate impending change in the California Current, for instance, adding ocean acidification and hypoxia to design criteria for marine protected areas, including consideration of ocean acidification and hypoxia in fisheries management decisions, and fully enforcing existing laws and regulations that govern water quality and land use and development.

Continue reading ‘Using integrated, ecosystem-level management to address intensifying ocean acidification and hypoxia in the California Current large marine ecosystem’

Identifying potential consequences of natural perturbations and management decisions on a coastal fishery social-ecological system using qualitative loop analysis

Managing for sustainable development and resource extraction requires an understanding of the feedbacks between ecosystems and humans. These feedbacks are part of complex social-ecological systems (SES), in which resources, actors, and governance systems interact to produce outcomes across these component parts. Qualitative modeling approaches offer ways to assess complex SES dynamics. Loop analysis in particular is useful for examining and identifying potential outcomes from external perturbations and management interventions in data poor systems when very little is known about functional relationships and parameter values. Using a case study of multispecies, multifleet coastal small-scale fisheries, we demonstrate the application of loop analysis to provide predictions regarding SES responses to perturbations and management actions. Specifically, we examine the potential ecological and socioeconomic consequences to coastal fisheries of different governance interventions (e.g., territorial user rights, fisheries closures, market-based incentives, ecotourism subsidies) and environmental changes. Our results indicate that complex feedbacks among biophysical and socioeconomic components can result in counterintuitive and unexpected outcomes. For example, creating new jobs through ecotourism or subsidies might have mixed effects on members of fishing cooperatives vs. nonmembers, highlighting equity issues. Market-based interventions, such as ecolabels, are expected to have overall positive economic effects, assuming a direct effect of ecolabels on market-prices, and a lack of negative biological impacts under most model structures. Our results highlight that integrating ecological and social variables in a unique unit of management can reveal important potential trade-offs between desirable ecological and social outcomes, highlight which user groups might be more vulnerable to external shocks, and identify which interventions should be further tested to identify potential win-win outcomes across the triple-bottom line of the sustainable development paradigm.

Continue reading ‘Identifying potential consequences of natural perturbations and management decisions on a coastal fishery social-ecological system using qualitative loop analysis’

Ocean acidification buffering effects of seagrass in Tampa Bay

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified ocean acidification as a critical threat to marine and estuarine species in ocean and coastal ecosystems around the world. However, seagrasses are projected to benefit from elevated atmospheric pCO2, are capable of increasing seawater pH and carbonate mineral saturation states through photosynthesis, and may help buffer against the chemical impacts of ocean acidification. Additionally, dissolution of carbonate sediments may also provide a mechanism for buffering seawater pH. Long-term water quality monitoring data from the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County indicates that seawater pH has risen since the 1980’s as seagrass beds have continued to recover since that time. We examined the role of seagrass beds in maintaining and elevating pH and carbonate mineral saturation state in northern and southern Tampa Bay where the percent of carbonate sediments is low (<3%) and high (>40%), respectively. Basic water quality and carbonate system parameters (including pH, total alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon, partial pressure of CO2, and carbonate  mineral saturation state) were measured over diurnal time periods along transects (50-100 m) including dense and sparse Thalassia testudinum. seagrass beds, deep edge seagrass, and adjacent bare sand bottom. Seagrass density and productivity, sediment composition and hydrodynamic parameters were also measured, concurrently. Results indicate that seagrass beds locally elevate pH by up to 0.5 pH unit and double carbonate mineral saturation states relative to bare sand habitats. Thus, seagrass beds in Tampa Bay may provide refuge for marine organisms from the impacts of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification buffering effects of seagrass in Tampa Bay’

Rapid emergence of climate change in environmental drivers of marine ecosystems

Climate change is expected to modify ecological responses in the ocean, with the potential for important effects on the ecosystem services provided to humankind. Here we address the question of how rapidly multiple drivers of marine ecosystem change develop in the future ocean. By analysing an ensemble of models we find that, within the next 15 years, the climate change-driven trends in multiple ecosystem drivers emerge from the background of natural variability in 55% of the ocean and propagate rapidly to encompass 86% of the ocean by 2050 under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario. However, we also demonstrate that the exposure of marine ecosystems to climate change-induced stress can be drastically reduced via climate mitigation measures; with mitigation, the proportion of ocean susceptible to multiple drivers within the next 15 years is reduced to 34%. Mitigation slows the pace at which multiple drivers emerge, allowing an additional 20 years for adaptation in marine ecological and socio-economic systems alike.

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Climate-smart design for ecosystem management: a test application for coral reefs

The interactive and cumulative impacts of climate change on natural resources such as coral reefs present numerous challenges for conservation planning and management. Climate change adaptation is complex due to climate-stressor interactions across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This leaves decision makers worldwide faced with local, regional, and global-scale threats to ecosystem processes and services, occurring over time frames that require both near-term and long-term planning. Thus there is a need for structured approaches to adaptation planning that integrate existing methods for vulnerability assessment with design and evaluation of effective adaptation responses. The Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning project of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force seeks to develop guidance for improving coral reef management through tailored application of a climate-smart approach. This approach is based on principles from a recently-published guide which provides a framework for adopting forward-looking goals, based on assessing vulnerabilities to climate change and applying a structured process to design effective adaptation strategies. Work presented in this paper includes: (1) examination of the climate-smart management cycle as it relates to coral reefs; (2) a compilation of adaptation strategies for coral reefs drawn from a comprehensive review of the literature; (3) in-depth demonstration of climate-smart design for place-based crafting of robust adaptation actions; and (4) feedback from stakeholders on the perceived usefulness of the approach. We conclude with a discussion of lessons-learned on integrating climate-smart design into real-world management planning processes and a call from stakeholders for an “adaptation design tool” that is now under development.

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Using prokaryotes for carbon capture storage

Geological storage of CO2 is a fast-developing technology that can mitigate rising carbon emissions. However, there are environmental concerns with the long-term storage and implications of a leak from a carbon capture storage (CCS) site. Traditional monitoring lacks clear protocols and relies heavily on physical methods. Here, we discuss the potential of biotechnology, focusing on microbes with a natural ability to utilize and assimilate CO2 through different metabolic pathways. We propose the use of natural microbial communities for CCS monitoring and CO2 utilization, and, with examples, demonstrate how synthetic biology may maximize CO2 uptake within and above storage sites. An integrated physical and biological approach, combined with metagenomics data and biotechnological advances, will enhance CO2 sequestration and prevent large-scale leakages.


Microorganisms have the ability to respond quickly to environmental changes and to bind CO2, potentially removing it from the surrounding environment.

High-throughput sequencing can be used to identify the microbial metagenomic fingerprint, which can be used to develop simplified, efficient genetic methods to monitor CCS sites.

CCS monitoring would be most effective with a multidisciplinary monitoring program, combining geology, biogeochemistry, physics, microbiology, molecular biology, and genomics.

The advances in our knowledge in prokaryotic genomics, metabolic pathways, microbial communities, and the potential to engineer CO2 binding properties in microbes provide opportunities for transforming CCS sites into bioreactors for value-added chemicals.

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Adaptation policies and strategies as a response to ocean acidification and warming in the Mediterranean Sea

1. Introduction

The ocean are a fundamental component of the Earth’s climate regulation, life and its carbon cycle. By burning fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution, and thus emitting large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, humans are changing the ocean in several ways. In particular, the ocean is absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) at such an unprecedented rate that it is rapidly changing its chemistry, resulting in “ocean acidification”, a reduction in pH, carbonate ion concentration and the ocean’s buffering capacity. Ocean acidification is a global environmental issue posing a threat to open ocean and coastal marine ecosystems, including semi-enclosed seas such as the Mediterranean Sea. (…)

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book