Researchers from the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, and the University of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, are creating downscaled climate models to estimate future abundance of fish stocks in the Bering Sea. By combining physical oceanography, fisheries science, and climate projections, researchers hope to develop climate and fishing scenarios that can facilitate climate-informed fisheries management in the region. This three-year project, which began in 2015, focuses on several commercially and ecologically important fish, such as walleye pollock, Pacific cod, arrowtooth flounder, northern rock sole, and snow crab, to estimate how these populations will be impacted by climatic variability. This effort supplements the activities of the multi-year, multi-disciplinary Bering Sea Project, wherein scientists studied regional ecosystem processes, including how climate change might impact fish stocks and fishing communities. The Bering Sea Project was initiated to better understand the drivers and consequences of ecosystem changes in the region. For example, walleye pollock abundance declined significantly in the early 2000s, causing a 40% quota reduction, and then suddenly rebounded. This population decline was linked to increased temperatures and decreased availability of copepod and krill for juvenile pollock. This new study will draw from previous modeling of climate indicators, ocean conditions, the ecosystem, fish stock health, and the socio-economics of fishing communities and industry. NOAA Fisheries is planning on sharing results and recommendations from this study with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to help inform 2021 assessment.
Score, A. 2016. Bering Sea Climate Change Study. Summary of a project from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center and the University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean produced for EcoAdapt’s State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/bering-sea-climate-change-study (Last updated August 2016)