Challenges to natural and human communities from surprising ocean temperatures

Last modified: 
August 13, 2019 - 1:15pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 08/2019
Authors: Andrew Pershing, Nicholas Record, Bradley Franklin, Brian Kennedy, Loren McClenachan, Katherine Mills, James Scott, Andrew Thomas, Nicholas Wolff
Journal title: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Pages: 201901084
ISSN: 0027-8424

The community of species, human institutions, and human activities at a given location have been shaped by historical conditions (both mean and variability) at that location. Anthropogenic climate change is now adding strong trends on top of existing natural variability. These trends elevate the frequency of “surprises”—conditions that are unexpected based on recent history. Here, we show that the frequency of surprising ocean temperatures has increased even faster than expected based on recent temperature trends. Using a simple model of human adaptation, we show that these surprises will increasingly challenge natural modes of adaptation that rely on historical experience. We also show that warming rates are likely to shift natural communities toward generalist species, reducing their productivity and diversity. Our work demonstrates increasing benefits for individuals and institutions from betting that trends will continue, but this strategy represents a radical shift that will be difficult for many to make.

Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No

Report an error or inaccuracy

Notice an error in the Literature item above? Please let us know in the comments section below. Thank you for helping us keep the Literature Library up-to-date!

Add new comment