North Pacific Climate Regimes and Ecosystem Productivity Program
The North Pacific Climate Regimes and Ecosystem Productivity (NPCREP) program is charged with conducting research on ecosystem responses to climate variability in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Research conducted through this program will improve scientific understanding and guidance for marine resource management in the North Pacific Ocean.
NPCREP was created in 2004 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and is supported by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. The program was established to investigate climate change impacts on North Pacific marine ecosystems.
The three main tasks of the NPCREP include:
- Developing climate models to assist fishery managers with stock assessments and predictions;
- Developing tools for use by fishery managers; and
- Providing relevant and accessible ecosystem data.
As part of its mission, the NPCREP provides the data and tools necessary for managers (including the North Pacific Fishery Management Council) to incorporate climate change into harvest rules and other management decisions that affect marine resources in the region.
The Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska are highly productive regions and support many marine species. Fisheries in Alaska account for more than half of the U.S. domestic seafood industry; these resources, and the subarctic region of Alaska in general, are expected to experience extreme climate variability and scientists are already noticing environmental changes. For example, large fluctuations in abundance (both decreases and increases) have been detailed in shrimp, red king crab, Steller sea lion, Alaska salmon, and elephant seal populations; programs like NPCREP can identify and help managers understand how climate variability affects these resources and how human activities can be adjusted to manage resources sustainably.
Climate variability affects marine productivity, community structure, and species assemblage. The impacts of concern to the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska include warmer air and water temperatures, loss of sea ice, and range shifts, which will affect the system’s trophic structure and fishery stock availability for human consumption. NPCREP’s research will assist the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, State of Alaska, and other resource managers to establish sustainable harvest policies and to manage resources using an ecosystem-based approach.
NPCREP is conducting the following activities:
- Monitoring and observing the ecosystem to create a network to track climate variability and ecosystem response;
- Investigating and interpreting how climate affects the North Pacific;
- Assessing and predicting climate-induced changes;
- Advising and informing stakeholders to assist with coordination of information use and exchange and to provide technical support in applying information; and
- Providing relevant information to NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
NPCREP is a relatively small program and works cooperatively with other regional research efforts, including the Bering Sea Ecosystem Study, Global Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC), North Pacific Research Board, Study of Environmental Arctic Change, and the Alaska Ocean Observing System, to achieve its goals.
Outcomes and Conclusions
NPCREP provides data, tools, and research that can be directly applied to incorporate climate variability into fishery and marine resource management. Some of the products NPCREP produces (or are in development) for NOAA and public use include ecosystem models, assessments and forecasts, an ecosystem monitoring network, and real-time ecosystem data for the Bering Sea, which allows the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to check for trends and current updates and adjust management decisions accordingly.
Gregg, R. M. (2010). North Pacific Climate Regimes and Ecosystem Productivity Program [Case study on a project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/north-pacific-climate-regimes-and-ecosystem-productivity-program (Last updated April 2010)