Proposed Abstract Title

Identifying potential marine climate change refugia in Canada’s Pacific: aspects relevant to the Salish Sea

Type of Presentation

Poster

Session Title

Ocean Acidification in the Salish Sea

Location

2016SSEC

Description

As climate change progresses, species and ecosystems will change in response. While some species will be able to shift their distributions, others will have difficulty keeping up with the pace of change. Thus, there is value in investigating, identifying (and protecting) areas of the ocean where conditions are stable or changing less rapidly, as it may provide another tool in a suite of ecosystem management techniques for adaptation to climate change. To date, much of the focus on potential marine climate refugia has focused on tropical systems, particularly coral reefs. We used the temperate waters of the NE Pacific as a case study to examine how a combination of remote sensing data and expert opinion could help identify areas where physical conditions are changing less rapidly. We analyzed variables affected by climate change where data were available for the whole region: sea surface temperature, sea surface height, and chlorophyll a from satellite data. In our consultations with oceanographers in the region, we identified some general characteristics of areas worthy of further investigation as potential climate refugia. We used the results of climate models for sea surface temperature and sea surface height to assess projected future changes. Our approach of combining analyses of change to date with expert assessments and modeled projections was a useful rapid assessment to identify potential climate refugia in Canada’s Pacific. Here we present the approach and its preliminary results, highlighting aspects of relevance to the Salish Sea.

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Identifying potential marine climate change refugia in Canada’s Pacific: aspects relevant to the Salish Sea

2016SSEC

As climate change progresses, species and ecosystems will change in response. While some species will be able to shift their distributions, others will have difficulty keeping up with the pace of change. Thus, there is value in investigating, identifying (and protecting) areas of the ocean where conditions are stable or changing less rapidly, as it may provide another tool in a suite of ecosystem management techniques for adaptation to climate change. To date, much of the focus on potential marine climate refugia has focused on tropical systems, particularly coral reefs. We used the temperate waters of the NE Pacific as a case study to examine how a combination of remote sensing data and expert opinion could help identify areas where physical conditions are changing less rapidly. We analyzed variables affected by climate change where data were available for the whole region: sea surface temperature, sea surface height, and chlorophyll a from satellite data. In our consultations with oceanographers in the region, we identified some general characteristics of areas worthy of further investigation as potential climate refugia. We used the results of climate models for sea surface temperature and sea surface height to assess projected future changes. Our approach of combining analyses of change to date with expert assessments and modeled projections was a useful rapid assessment to identify potential climate refugia in Canada’s Pacific. Here we present the approach and its preliminary results, highlighting aspects of relevance to the Salish Sea.