Climate Change

Climate-driven changes in upwelling, ocean mixing, oxygen minimum zones, and nutrient cycling are likely to affect the year-to-year variation in ocean ecosystem processes. These changes will potentially impact marine life and the fundamental underpinnings of fisheries from shallow to deep-sea habitats. MBARI’s technical achievements and knowledge are transforming climate change research with novel methods and technologies.

Impacts of climate change on marine communities

Close-up of crab on rock surrounded by mussels.

A 10-week experiment conducted by MBARI researchers shed light on how entire marine communities, not just a single species, might be impacted by warmer water temperatures and an increasingly acidic ocean. Crabs, abalone, mussels, predatory snails, and seaweed were placed in special tanks that controlled temperature and levels of carbon dioxide to approximate future ocean conditions. The researchers observed changes in the performance of individual animals, such as reduced feeding or growth rates, but were also able to test how shifts in one species’ survival or behavior could have consequences for other species as well.

Results of the experiment were published in Marine Ecology Progress Series. The researchers concluded that for strongly linked species (e.g., predator-prey or competitors), the indirect effects of climate change may be powerful in shaping future marine communities.

Related

Climate Change Projects

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Canadian Arctic 2016 Expedition

A group of MBARI scientists and engineers, led by geologist Charlie Paull, returned to the Beaufort Sea on a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker to study the Arctic seafloor.
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Respiration studies

The oxygen content of the entire world ocean is falling. To investigate the consequences of this largescale change, MBARI scientists are exploring a characteristic attribute of the oceanic water column in Monterey Bay called the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ).
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Sargasso Sea research

Sargassum macroalgal rafts in the Sargasso Sea are vital feeding and spawning grounds for pelagic fishes, seabirds, sea turtles and whales. How might changes in ocean conditions and Sargassum habitat impact rafting animals?
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Antarctic research

Global climate change is causing Antarctic ice shelves to shrink and split apart, yielding thousands of free-drifting icebergs in the nearby Weddell Sea. These floating islands of ice are having a major impact on the ecology and chemistry of the ocean around them, serving as “hotspots” for ocean life.

Making an impact

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Climate Change

Climate-driven changes in upwelling, ocean mixing, oxygen minimum zones, and nutrient cycling are likely to affect the year-to-year variation in ocean ecosystem processes. These changes will potentially impact marine life and the fundamental underpinnings of fisheries from shallow to deep-sea habitats.
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Ocean Health

One of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s long-term goals it to restore the health and productivity of the world ocean, on which all live depends. MBARI research results have contributed to raising public awareness about the health and future of the ocean.
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Exploration and Discovery

Exploration inevitably leads to discovery. MBARI is uniquely positioned to explore the deep-sea realm and its connections with the ocean surface. Easy access to Monterey Bay’s deep submarine canyon provides a natural laboratory for scientific research and engineering innovation.