The present study quantifies the magnitude of Arctic sea-ice loss in the boreal summer (July–September), especially in September at different timescales (daily, monthly, annual and decadal). The investigation on the accelerated decline in the Arctic sea-ice was performed using different datasets of passive microwave satellite imagery and model reanalysis. Arctic sea-ice declined rapidly in the boreal summer (-10.2 ± 0.8 %decade−1) during 1979–2018, while, the highest decline in sea-ice extent (SIE) (i.e., 82,300 km2 yr−1/-12.8 ± 1.1 %decade−1) is reported in the month of September. Since late 1979, the SIE recorded the sixth-lowest decline during September 2018 (4.71 million km2). Incidentally, the records of twelve lowest extents in the satellite era occurred in the last twelve years. The loss of SIE and sea-ice concentration (SIC) are attributed to the impacts of land-ocean warming and the northward heat advection into the Arctic Ocean. This has resulted in considerable thinning of sea-ice thickness (SIT) and reduction in the multiyear ice (MYI) for summer 2018. Global and Arctic land-ocean temperatures have increased by ~0.78 °C and ~3.1 °C, respectively, over the past 40 years (1979–2018) while substantial warming rates have been identified in the Arctic Ocean (~3.5 °C in the last 40-year) relative to the Arctic land (~2.8 °C in the last 40-year). The prevailing ocean-atmospheric warming in the Arctic, the SIE, SIC and SIT have reduced, resulting in the decline of the sea-ice volume (SIV) at the rate of -3.0 ± 0.2 (1000 km3 decade−1). Further, it observed that the SIV in September 2018 was three times lower than September 1979. The present study demonstrates the linkages of sea-ice dynamics to ice drifting and accelerated melting due to persistent low pressure, high air-ocean temperatures, supplemented by the coupled ocean-atmospheric forcing.
Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, and Ocean Warming
Ocean acidification (OA) is projected to have profound impacts on marine ecosystems and resources, especially in estuarine habitats. Here, we describe biological risks under current levels of exposure to anthropogenic OA in the Salish Sea, an estuarine system that already experiences inherently low pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωar) conditions. We used the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State Department of Ecology Salish Sea biogeochemical model (SSM) informed by a selection of OA-related biological thresholds of ecologically and economically important calcifiers, pteropods, and Dungeness crabs. The SSM was implemented to assess current exposure and associated risk due to reduced Ωar and pH conditions with respect to the magnitude, duration, and severity of exposure below the biological thresholds in the Salish Sea in comparison to the pre-industrial era. We further investigated the individual effects of atmospheric CO2 uptake and nutrient-driven eutrophication on changes in chemical exposure since pre-industrial times. Our model predicts average decreases in Ωar and pH since pre-industrial times of about 0.11 and 0.06, respectively, in the top 100 m of the water column of the Salish Sea. These decreases predispose pelagic calcifiers to increased duration, intensity, and severity of exposure. For pteropods, present-day exposure is below the thresholds related to sublethal effects across the entire Salish Sea basin, while mortality threshold exposure occurs on a spatially limited basis. The greatest risk for larval Dungeness crabs is associated with spatially limited exposures to low calcite saturation state in the South Sound in the springtime, triggering an increase in internal dissolution. The main anthropogenic driver behind the predicted impacts is atmospheric CO2 uptake, while nutrient-driven eutrophication plays only a marginal role over spatially and temporally limited scales. Reduction of CO2 emissions can help sustain biological species vital for ecosystem functions and society.
The marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) pool is an important player in the functioning of marine ecosystems. DOC is at the interface between the chemical and the biological worlds, it fuels marine food webs, and is a major component of the Earth’s carbon system. Here, we review the research showing impacts of global change stressors on the DOC cycling, specifically: ocean warming and stratification, acidification, deoxygenation, glacial and sea ice melting, changed inflow from rivers, changing ocean circulation and upwelling, and wet/dry deposition. A unified outcome of the future impacts of these stressors on the global ocean DOC production and degradation is not possible, due to regional differences and differences in stressors impacts, but general patterns for each stressor are presented.
Mass coral bleaching has increased in intensity and frequency and has severely impacted shallow tropical reefs worldwide. Although extensive investigation has been conducted on the resistance and resilience of coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean, the unique reefs of the South Atlantic remain largely unassessed. Here we compiled primary and literature data for reefs from three biogeographical regions: Indo-Pacific, Caribbean and South Atlantic and performed comparative analyses to investigate whether the latter may be more resistant to bleaching. Our findings show that South Atlantic corals display critical features that make them less susceptible to mass coral bleaching: (i) deeper bathymetric distribution, as species have a mean maximum depth of occurrence of 70 m; (ii) higher tolerance to turbidity, as nearly 60% of species are found in turbid conditions; (iii) higher tolerance to nutrient enrichment, as nitrate concentration in the South Atlantic is naturally elevated; (iv) higher morphological resistance, as massive growth forms are dominant and comprise two thirds of species; and (v) more flexible symbiotic associations, as 75% of corals and 60% of symbiont phylotypes are generalists. Such features were associated with occurrence of fewer bleaching episodes with coral mortality in the South Atlantic, approximately 60% less than the Indo-Pacific and 50% less than the Caribbean. In addition, no mass coral mortality episodes associated with the three global mass bleaching events have been reported for the South Atlantic, which suffered considerably less bleaching. These results show that South Atlantic reefs display several remarkable features for withstanding thermal stress. Together with a historic experience of lower heat stress, our findings may explain why climate change impacts in this region have been less intense. Given the large extension and latitudinal distribution of South Atlantic coral reefs and communities, the region may be recognized as a major refugium and likely to resist climate change impacts more effectively than Indo-Pacific and Caribbean reefs.
Realistic predictions of climate change effects on natural resources are central to adaptation policies that try to reduce these impacts. However, most current forecasting approaches do not incorporate species-specific, process-based biological information, which limits their ability to inform actionable strategies. Mechanistic approaches, incorporating quantitative information on functional traits, can potentially predict species- and population-specific responses that result from the cumulative impacts of small-scale processes acting at the organismal level, and can be used to infer population-level dynamics and inform natural resources management. Here we present a proof-of-concept study using the European anchovy as a model species that shows how a trait-based, mechanistic species distribution model can be used to explore the vulnerability of marine species to environmental changes, producing quantitative outputs useful for informing fisheries management. We crossed scenarios of temperature and food to generate quantitative maps of selected mechanistic model outcomes (e.g., Maximum Length and Total Reproductive Output). These results highlight changing patterns of source and sink spawning areas as well as the incidence of reproductive failure. This study demonstrates that model predictions based on functional traits can reduce the degree of uncertainty when forecasting future trends of fish stocks. However, to be effective they must be based on high spatial- and temporal resolution environmental data. Such a sensitive and spatially explicit predictive approach may be used to inform more effective adaptive management strategies of resources in novel climatic conditions.
Understanding the social vulnerabilities and community strategies to adapt to environmental changes are crucial for the development of actions to enhance both community conservation and survival. With the aim to identify the drivers of vulnerability to climate change among different coastal communities a comprehensive multi-scale vulnerability framework was here adopted. Eight selected fishing communities representative of the South Brazil Bight (SBB) area were surveyed at the household level. A total of 151 fishers were interviewed. Quantitative indicators were calculated at the community-level, and their drivers identified, allowing for comparisons of the overall vulnerability score. Findings revealed that remoteness and the lack of climate change-related institutional support increase vulnerability among fishing communities in the region. On the other hand, community organization, leadership, research partnerships, community-based co-management, and livelihood diversification reduce vulnerability. Our analysis focused on social vulnerability to climate change in regional fishing communities and provides a better understanding of these effects in coastal zones, the factors explaining vulnerability and some perspectives on resilient and adaptable systems. Learning from comparisons at the ecosystem level may be applied to coastal regions elsewhere.
Climate change is expected to dramatically alter the distribution of many marine megafauna, impacting the people and economies that depend upon them. We build on the recent literature by developing a framework to describe the effects these changes will have on marine megafauna. With the goal to assist policymakers and grass roots organizers, we identify three illustrative pathways by which climate change drives these range shifts: (1) effects on habitat and shelter, (2) impacts on reproduction and disease, and (3) changing distribution of sources of food. We examine non-climate factors that may constrain or enable megafauna to adapt, creating winners and losers both for the species and the people dependent upon them. Finally, we comment on what management strategies exist at international and local scales that could help mitigate these impacts of climate change so that we, as a global community, can ensure that marine megafauna and people can best co-exist in a changing world.
Diatoms play a key role in the marine carbon cycle with their high primary productivity and release of exudates such as extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and transparent exopolymeric particles (TEP). These exudates contribute to aggregates (marine snow) that rapidly transport organic material to the seafloor, potentially capturing contaminants like petroleum components. Ocean acidification (OA) impacts marine organisms, especially those that utilize inorganic carbon for photosynthesis and EPS production. Here we investigated the response of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana grown to present day and future ocean conditions in the presence of a water accommodated fraction (WAF and OAWAF) of oil and a diluted chemically enhanced WAF (DCEWAF and OADCEWAF). T. pseudonana responded to WAF/DCEWAF but not OA and no multiplicative effect of the two factors (i.e., OA and oil/dispersant) was observed. T. pseudonana released more colloidal EPS (< 0.7 μm to > 3 kDa) in the presence of WAF/DCEWAF/OAWAF/OADCEWAF than in the corresponding Controls. Colloidal EPS and particulate EPS in the oil/dispersant treatments have higher protein-to-carbohydrate ratios than those in the control treatments, and thus are likely stickier and have a greater potential to form aggregates of marine oil snow. More TEP was produced in response to WAF than in Controls; OA did not influence its production. Polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations and distributions were significantly impacted by the presence of dispersants but not OA. PAHs especially Phenanthrenes, Anthracenes, Chrysenes, Fluorenes, Fluoranthenes, Pyrenes, Dibenzothiophenes and 1-Methylphenanthrene show major variations in the aggregate and surrounding seawater fraction of oil and oil plus dispersant treatments. Studies like this add to the current knowledge of the combined effects of aggregation, marine snow formation, and the potential impacts of oil spills under ocean acidification scenarios.
Elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can alter ecologically important behaviors in a range of marine invertebrate taxa; however, a clear mechanistic understanding of these behavioral changes is lacking. The majority of mechanistic research on the behavioral effects of elevated CO2 has been done in fish, focusing on disrupted functioning of the GABAA receptor (a ligand-gated ion channel, LGIC). Yet, elevated CO2 could induce behavioral alterations through a range of mechanisms that disturb different components of the neurobiological pathway that produces behavior, including disrupted sensation, altered behavioral choices and disturbed LGIC-mediated neurotransmission. Here, we review the potential mechanisms by which elevated CO2 may affect marine invertebrate behaviors. Marine invertebrate acid–base physiology and pharmacology is discussed in relation to altered GABAA receptor functioning. Alternative mechanisms for behavioral change at elevated CO2 are considered and important topics for future research have been identified. A mechanistic understanding will be important to determine why there is variability in elevated CO2-induced behavioral alterations across marine invertebrate taxa, why some, but not other, behaviors are affected within a species and to identify which marine invertebrates will be most vulnerable to rising CO2 levels.
Cold-seep benthic communities in the Arctic exist at the nexus of two extreme environments; one reflecting the harsh physical extremes of the Arctic environment and another reflecting the chemical extremes and strong environmental gradients associated with seafloor seepage of methane and toxic sulfide-enriched sediments. Recent ecological investigations of cold seeps at numerous locations on the margins of the Arctic Ocean basin reveal that seabed seepage of reduced gas and fluids strongly influence benthic communities and associated marine ecosystems. These Arctic seep communities are mostly different from both conventional Arctic benthic communities as well as cold-seep systems elsewhere in the world. They are characterized by a lack of large specialized chemo-obligate polychetes and mollusks often seen at non-Arctic seeps, but, nonetheless, have substantially higher benthic abundance and biomass compared to adjacent Arctic areas lacking seeps. Arctic seep communities are dominated by expansive tufts or meadows of siboglinid polychetes, which can reach densities up to >3 × 105 ind.m–2. The enhanced autochthonous chemosynthetic production, combined with reef-like structures from methane-derived authigenic carbonates, provides a rich and complex local habitat that results in aggregations of non-seep specialized fauna from multiple trophic levels, including several commercial species. Cold seeps are far more widespread in the Arctic than thought even a few years ago. They exhibit in situ benthic chemosynthetic production cycles that operate on different spatial and temporal cycles than the sunlight-driven counterpart of photosynthetic production in the ocean’s surface. These systems can act as a spatio-temporal bridge for benthic communities and associated ecosystems that may otherwise suffer from a lack of consistency in food quality from the surface ocean during seasons of low production. As climate change impacts accelerate in Arctic marginal seas, photosynthetic primary production cycles are being modified, including in terms of changes in the timing, magnitude, and quality of photosynthetic carbon, whose delivery to the seabed fuels benthic communities. Furthermore, an increased northward expansion of species is expected as a consequence of warming seas. This may have implications for dispersal and evolution of both chemosymbiotic species as well as for background taxa in the entire realm of the Arctic Ocean basin and fringing seas.