Bering Sea Climate Change Study

Alessandra Score
Posted on: 9/29/2016 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

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Project Summary

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: (Last updated August 2016)

Affiliated Organizations

The Alaska Fisheries Science Center is the research branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service responsible for research on living marine resources in the coastal oceans off Alaska and off  parts of the west coast of the United States.

NOAA is an agency that enriches life through science. Our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep citizens informed of the changing environment around them. From daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce, NOAA’s products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America’s gross domestic product.

The School of Marine and Environmental Affairs (SMEA) at the University of Washington offers an internationally recognized master's degree program for launching careers in marine policy and administration. The Master of Marine Affairs (MMA) program is one of a handful of graduate programs in the United States focused on the intersection of natural and social sciences with public policy. SMEA's strength lies both in its rigorous, interdisciplinary academic program and its faculty research in current marine and coastal issues.