SE Fisheries & Climate Simulations: Barriers to Adaptation

Cumulative human pressure on the Earth’s systems is changing both terrestrial and marine systems in significant ways – shifts in temperature, water levels, winds, extreme events and associated changes in habitat, flora and fauna. For industries, such as fisheries, and societies to remain viable despite the change they will need to adapt to it, as they have adapted to many other changes through time. There are wide range of research projects into the mechanisms that assist or hinder adaptation.

Simulation models, such as Atlantis, that consider the many interacting components of socio-ecological systems can appear complex, but they are an important tool for synthesising information, clarifying system understanding, laying out potential outcomes and highlight contradictory, uncertain or missing information. A number of simulation studies have already been based on south east Australia and a new set of simulations have been done using strategies and scenarios defined by stakeholders in the system.

Projecting global marine biodiversity impacts under climate change scenarios

Climate change can impact the pattern of marine biodiversity through changes in species’ distributions. However, global studies on climate change impacts on ocean biodiversity have not been performed so far. Our paper aims to investigate the global patterns of such impacts by projecting the distributional ranges of a sample of 1066 exploited marine fish and invertebrates for 2050 using a newly developed dynamic bioclimate envelope model. Our projections show that climate change may lead to numerous local extinction in the sub-polar regions, the tropics and semi-enclosed seas. Simultaneously, species invasion is projected to be most intense in the Arctic and the Southern Ocean. Together, they result in dramatic species turnovers of over 60% of the present biodiversity, implying ecological disturbances that potentially disrupt ecosystem services. Our projections can be viewed as a set of hypotheses for future analytical and empirical studies.

Decision-Making and Action Taking: Fisheries Management in a Changing Climate

Decision-makers in fisheries management are confronted with the challenge of how to respond to existing and predicted changes in ocean conditions that are likely to affect the stocks of fish they manage. In order to address climate change most research and thinking advises decision-makers to ensure that fisheries are well-managed and abundant in an ecosystem context. These policies can best allow fisheries to adapt to changing climate. To address climate change, decision-makers should carefully monitor changing conditions and potential changes in factors affecting fish stock abundance. An adaptive approach to fisheries management under conditions of climate change requires that decision-makers engage with fishing interests in a transparent manner and in ways that respect the input of fishing interests and in ways that acknowledge the levels of uncertainty. This approach implies a governance approach to management that is closer to co-management or shared management responsibility than in most hierarchical processes that characterize fishery management to date. The answer to the question of when fishery decision-makers should begin to incorporate climate change into decision making processes is that they should have started yesterday. The justification for this is that even today, climate variability can affect fishery management decisions and the sooner this is understood and incorporated into the management process the better. In economic terms, a conservative decision relative to fisheries management is likely to produce a positive long term benefit whereas the failure to recognize the need to act in time may have serious immediate negative consequences especially when compounded by inadequate management. While climate change can also produce positive consequences for some species a note of caution is still advised in anticipating and responding to such opportunities.

Effects of Global Climate Change on Marine and Estuarine Fishes and Fisheries

Global climate change is impacting and will continue to impact marine and estuarine fish and fisheries. Data trends show global climate change effects ranging from increased oxygen consumption rates in fishes, to changes in foraging and migrational patterns in polar seas, to fish community changes in bleached tropical coral reefs. Projections of future conditions portend further impacts on the distribution and abundance of fishes associated with relatively small temperature changes. Changing fish distributions and abundances will undoubtedly affect communities of humans who harvest these stocks. Coastal-based harvesters (subsistence, commercial, recreational) may be impacted (negatively or positively) by changes in fish stocks due to climate change. Furthermore, marine protected area boundaries, low-lying island countries dependent on coastal economies, and disease incidence (in aquatic organisms and humans) are also affected by a relatively small increase in temperature and sea level. Our interpretations of evidence include many uncertainties about the future of affected fish species and their harvesters. Therefore, there is a need to research the physiology and ecology of marine and estuarine fishes, particularly in the tropics where comparatively little research has been conducted. As a broader and deeper information base accumulates, researchers will be able to make more accurate predictions and forge relevant solutions.

Department of the Interior Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2014)

Adaptation is the adjustments that society or ecosystems make to limit negative effects of climate change. The Department’s approach to adaptation focuses on increasing the resilience of the Department’s assets, program activities, and mission responsibilities in response to climate vulnerabilities. Resilience is the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.

While the Department’s 2013 Climate Change Adaptation Plan focused on assessing the Department’s climate change related vulnerabilities, the 2014 Plan focuses more on the Department’s work to address climate change through implementation of Executive Order 13653 and the Department’s Climate Change Adaptation Policy (523 DM 1). Section II of this plan explains the Department’s official Climate Change Adaptation Policy and provides additional guiding principles. Section III summarizes the Department’s efforts to address climate related risks. Section IV demonstrates the Department’s efforts to modernize programs to support climate resilience investment.

NatureServe Vista


United States
44° 23' 22.2324" N, 99° 23' 32.2872" W
Tool Overview: 

NatureServe Vista® is a free, ArcGIS extension that automates advanced spatial analyses for planners and managers. It is a highly capable decision-support system that helps users integrate conservation with many types of planning, ecosystem based management, ecosystem based adaptation, and scenario-based planning.

Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector

Significant progress has been made in developing scientific principles and tools for adapting to climate change through science-management partnerships focused on education, assessment of vulnerability of natural resources, and development of adaptation strategies and tactics. In addition, climate change has motivated increased use of bioenergy and carbon (C) sequestration policy options as mitigation strategies, emphasizing the effects of climate change-human interactions on forests, as well as the role of forests in mitigating climate change. Forest growth and afforestation in the United States currently account for a net gain in C storage and offset approximately 13 percent of the Nation’s fossil fuel CO2 production. Climate change mitigation through forest C management focuses on (1) land use change to increase forest area (afforestation) and avoid deforestation, (2) C management in existing forests, and (3) use of wood as biomass energy, in place of fossil fuel or in wood products for C storage and in place of other building materials. Although climate change is an important issue for management and policy, the interaction of changes in biophysical environments (e.g., climate, disturbance, and invasive species) and human responses to those changes (management and policy) will ultimately determine outcomes for ecosystem services and people.

Climate Sensitivity of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System

Estuaries are places where rivers meet the sea, providing nursery habitat for fish and shellfish while buffering many coastal communities from the impacts of coastal storms and sea level rise. The climate exposure of each reserve provides first alarm indicators about the effects of climate change on the coastal ecosystems. Ongoing research at each of the reserves provides real-time data about how climate change impacts these important natural resources.

Almost 40 percent of all Americans, or about 123 million people, live in the counties directly along the shoreline and depend on these resources for food, jobs, storm protection, and recreation. Approximately 50 percent, or $6.6 trillion, of the nation’s gross domestic product comes from coastal watershed counties which support more than 51 million jobs.

Researchers determined the extent of relative climate sensitivity in the reserves by looking at five factors: social, biophysical, and ecological sensitivity, and exposure to temperature change and sea level rise.

Adapting Sustainable Forest Management to Climate Change: A Framework for Assessing Vulnerability and Mainstreaming Adaptation into Decision Making

One of the consequences of climate change is that new kinds of information will be needed to support policy- and decision making. The vulnerability approach is an established methodology for providing information in a form that supports policy- and decision making in the context of adapting to climate change. For example, climate change is ubiquitous, so approaches to assessment are needed that simultaneously consider the breadth of impacts both on forests and on sustainable forest management objectives. In addition, the long growth cycles of trees mean that forest management is inherently a long-term undertaking. This, combined with the fact that Canada’s climate could change significantly in the next 100 years, means that a long-term view of climate change impacts is needed in order to make correct forest management decisions today. There is, however, uncertainty about future climate change impacts. Vulnerability assessments acknowledge and address uncertainty through a process of scenario construction. Typically, such a process results in multiple stories of the future, which are informed by a combination of science, modeling, and expert judgment. Climate change will have implications for the capacity of forest managers, forest management organizations, and forest management systems to adapt. Vulnerability approaches incorporate assessments of adaptive capacity. This document presents a framework for assessing the vulnerability of sustainable forest management in Canada to climate change and linking the results of vulnerability assessment to an adaptation process that is integrated into forest management decision making. The framework will enable Canadian forest managers to better understand the location, timing, and magnitude of potential climate change impacts on sustainable forest management objectives and their capacity to adapt to current and future impacts. The framework also describes a process for structured, adaptive management decision making in which information about sources of vulnerability is used to implement adaptation actions, the state of the system after adaptation is monitored, and vulnerabilities and adaptation requirements are regularly and systematically re-examined.

Adapting Sustainable Forest Management to Climate Change: Scenarios for Vulnerability Assessment

Maintaining sustainable forest management practices in Canada during the 21st century and beyond will be a major challenge, given the uncertainties of global socioeconomic development and multiple interacting consequences of global environmental change. Scenarios represent an important tool for decision makers to use in exploring the causes and effects of possible changes in future environmental conditions and the implications of those changes for forests and the social, environmental, and economic benefits that forests provide. Scenario analysis allows managers and other stakeholders to evaluate the consequences of plausible alternative futures for forest management and to develop robust adaptation strategies. This report addresses the origins of the scenarios that will be needed to assess the impacts of climate change and other stressors on managed forest systems. It examines how scenarios can be constructed for application at local scales (such as a forest management unit), using both top–down (downscaling from global and regional projections) and bottom–up (accounting for local trends and projections) approaches. Practical examples of using scenarios for impact assessment in forestry are briefly reviewed in four case studies from across Canada.