Climate Vulnerability Assessments
NOAA Fisheries assesses the vulnerability of fish stocks, protected species (mammals, sea turtles), habitats and fishing communities to changing climate and ocean conditions, to better prepare the many diverse people and businesses that depend on them.
Changing climate and ocean conditions are affecting the nation’s marine species and the people, businesses, and communities that depend on them. Warming oceans, rising seas, ocean acidification and changing storms are impacting marine life, fisheries and local economies. These impacts are expected to increase with continued changes in the planet’s climate system.
To help reduce impacts and increase resilience, NOAA Fisheries is assessing the vulnerability of fish species, protected species (marine mammals, sea turtles), habitats and fishing communities to changing climate and ocean conditions. See below for information on the existing vulnerability assessments.
Purpose of the Climate Vulnerability Assessments
To respond to and prepare for changes in climate and oceans, decision-makers need information about what species may be most vulnerable and why. Climate Vulnerability Assessments identify what species may be most vulnerable based on their exposure to projected changes in the environment (e.g., warming oceans) and their sensitivity or adaptability to handle those changes based on their life history characteristics (e.g., reproductive rates, diet etc). Vulnerability assessments can help identify areas where additional research and action is needed to reduce risks. Information on the methods NOAA Fisheries uses to assess climate vulnerability is available below.
How It Works
The Vulnerability Assessment Methodology uses information on species’ life histories, species’ distributions, and projected future climate and ocean conditions to estimate vulnerability—specifically, how climate-related changes could affect fish species’ abundance, and to some extent, their distribution. The results are intended to guide research on possible climate impacts on species or stocks and help decision-makers consider how to prepare for and respond to climate-related changes.
This chart describes the basic steps of a fish species climate vulnerability assessment. Information on the methodology for assessing vulnerability of fish and invertebrates is here. Information on the methodology for assessing vulnerability of marine mammals is here.
Infographic illustrating the methodology scientists use for the Climate Vulnerability Assessment.
Current Climate Vulnerability Assessments
NOAA Fisheries is conducting climate vulnerability assessments on fish stocks, protected species (marine mammals, sea turtles) and fishing communities to better understand what’s at risk and how to respond. Below is information on current and planned vulnerability assessments.
Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessments:
Northeast Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment - Assesses vulnerability of 82 fish and invertebrate species to changing climate and ocean conditions in the Northeast large marine ecosystem.
Pacific Salmon Vulnerability Assessment - Assesses the vulnerability of Pacific salmon species/populations to changing climate and ocean conditions along the U.S. West Coast.
Bering Sea Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment – Assesses the vulnerability of 36 groundfish, crab, and salmon stocks in the eastern Bering Sea to changing climate and ocean conditions.
West Coast Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment – in progress
Pacific Islands Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment – in progress
Gulf of Mexico Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment – in progress
South Atlantic Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment – in progress
Contact: Roger Griffis; firstname.lastname@example.org
Protected Species Climate Vulnerability Assessments:
A Method for Assessing the Vulnerability of Sea Turtles to a Changing Climate (2020). NMFS/SPO-211, 84 p.
A Method for Assessing the Vulnerability of Marine Mammals to a Changing Climate (2019). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFSF/SPO-196, 73 p.
Atlantic Marine Mammal Climate Vulnerability Assessment – in progress
Pacific Marine Mammal Climate Vulnerability Assessment – in progress
Sea Turtle Climate Vulnerability Assessment – in progress
Contact: Matthew Lettrich; email@example.com
Habitat Climate Vulnerability Assessments:
Assesses vulnerability of living marine resource habitats to changing climate and ocean conditions in a region.
Contact: Mike Johnson; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fishing Community Climate Vulnerability Assessments:
Indicators of climate change and social vulnerability in fishing dependent communities along the Eastern and Gulf Coasts of the United States. 2016. Lisa L.Colburn, Michael Jepson, Changhua Weng, Tarsila Seara, Jeremy Weiss, Jonathan A.Hare. Marine Policy 74 (2016): 323-333.
Contact: Lisa Colburn; email@example.com
- A Method for Assessing the Vulnerability of Marine Mammals to a Changing Climate (2019). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFSF/SPO-196, 73 p.