A Changing Climate
Changing climate and oceans are affecting the nation’s valuable marine life and the many people, businesses, and communities that depend on them. Warming oceans, loss of sea ice, rising seas, extreme events, and acidification are impacting the distribution and abundance of species and the structure of marine and coastal ecosystems in many regions. These impacts are expected to increase, and there is much at risk.
Expected Changes in the Eastern Bering Sea Region
Alaska is on the front lines of climate change. Large changes in ocean conditions are projected in the Bering Sea and such changes may have cascading impacts on regional food webs. The Eastern Bering Sea supports some of the most valuable commercial fisheries in the world and subsistence harvests are a critical resource for coastal communities. There are also high numbers of seabirds and marine mammals in the region. Climate-related changes in ocean and coastal ecosystems are impacting the plankton, fish, seabirds, and marine mammals of the southeastern Bering Sea. The people, businesses, and human communities that depend on them are impacted as well. Actionable information on when and how climate change will continue to impact Alaska is needed.
This Alaska - Eastern Bering Sea Regional Action Plan identifies priority actions to implement the National Climate Science Strategy and advance climate-informed decision making, resilience, and adaptation in the region.
Maintain Mechanistic Research, Infrastructure, and Track Change ( Objectives 5–7)
- Maintain core fisheries and marine mammal surveys in the Eastern Bering Sea. Maintain and improve model based survey biomass estimates. Evaluate implications of current and alternative survey sampling designs.
- Maintain and improve the fishery monitoring and assessment program and evaluate implications of adoption of electronic monitoring on stock assessments
- Deploy moorings and invest in new technologies to enhance data collection from existing survey platforms
- Assess fishery dependent community responses to climate induced ecosystem change. Produce Alaska Community Engagement and Participation Overview reports and Economic Stock Assessment and Fisheries Evaluation reports.
- Conduct laboratory and field research on the mechanistic effects of multiple climate factors (e.g., temperature, ocean acidification, dissolved oxygen) on marine life with the goal of informing process-based models for single species, multi-species, and the ecosystem
- Conduct ecosystem surveys of the eastern and northern Bering Sea for assessing physics, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and larval, juvenile fish abundance and condition
Inform Climate, Ecosystem and Fisheries Decision Support Systems ( Objectives 1–4)
- Maintain and improve the multimodel suite used to assess the implications of climate change on fish and shellfish through the delivery and uptake of climate nowcasts, forecasts and projections
- Use the results of ecosystem linked assessments and climate projections to assess impacts on fisheries and fishery dependent communities
- Continue production of annual stock assessments, ecosystem status reports, ecosystem and socioeconomic profiles, risk tables, and climate change task force products that include climate relevant information
- Improve use of spatial information derived from observations and species distribution models in management decisions
- Complete management strategy evaluation and scenario Planning through completion of the Alaska Climate Integrated Modeling Project Phase 2
- Work with federal and academic partners to develop and improve regional hindcasts, forecasts, and projections of ocean and estuarine/river physics, sea ice, and biogeochemistry
- Increase social and economic scientist involvement in climate change research
- Transition at least one assessment from the semi-quantitative statistical analysis of ecosystem indicators in Ecosystem and Socioeconomic Profiles to an evaluation of an alternative for an operational ecosystem-linked stock assessment model. Explore using Fisheries Integrated Modeling System software for at least one assessment.
Contact: Kalei Shotwell (Kalei.Shotwell@noaa.gov)