I am part of a National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) working group on ‘Towards Understanding Marine Biological Impacts of Climate Change’. This Working Group is providing a globally coherent view of marine biological changes in response to climate change that is currently lacking but so desperately needed. We are addressing key questions concerning the vulnerability of marine systems to climate change:
1. What are the similarities and differences between marine and terrestrial systems in terms of types and rates of responses?
2. Which marine species, taxonomic groups and systems (e.g., pelagic, benthic, rocky shore, sandy beach, coral reef) are most sensitive?
3. What are the similarities and differences in the types and rates of responses in tropical, temperate and polar seas?
4. Do multiple human stresses increase vulnerability of species and habitats to climate change?
5. Can we attribute change in marine ecosystems to climate change?
To answer these key questions, we are undertaking three tasks:
Task 1: Database assembly – Build a marine climate impacts database employing an innovative tiered approach to classify impacts. The database will soon be publicly-accessible through the NCEAS data repository, enabling researchers to validate entries and upload new results.
Task 2: Impacts analysis – Addressing the first 4 key questions above by applying robust meta-analytic techniques to the marine climate impacts database.
Task 3: Attribution – Employing the analytical techniques of the IPCC (2007) and others to attribute changes in marine biological ecosystems to global warming with a high degree of certainty (key question 5).
John M. Pandolfi