Through a suite of programs under the Coastal Ecosystem Effects of Climate Change Program (CEECC), CSCOR supports interdisciplinary, multi-year research programs investigating how oceanic and coastal ecosystems respond to climate variability and change. CSCOR's goal is to provide managers with the scientific knowledge and tools, including ecological models, to prepare for climate change impacts with more certainty in scale, timing and local detail.
Why is this issue important?
Coastal estuarine and marine ecosystems are inherently vulnerable to decline primarily as a result of the increase in human population dependent on the coast for living, working and transportation. Coastal ecosystems have been plagued by habitat loss, nutrient pollution, low oxygen events, harmful algal blooms and invasive species. Global climate change has the potential to exacerbate all of these existing stressors plus add some additional, unprecedented variability. Climate induced environmental changes on estuarine and marine ecosystems include:
- Temperature changes that alter ecological processes and species interactions;
- Increase in frequency of extreme ocean warming events, with implications for coral reef bleaching;
- Changes in precipitation that alter freshwater run-off of nutrients, sediment, and contaminants;
- Accelerated rates of sea level rise;
- Alteration of oceanic wind and water circulation patterns;
- Continued losses of sea ice over large areas of the Arctic basin;
- Ocean Acidification caused by reaction of increasing atmospheric CO2 with seawater
How are we addressing this issue?
The goal of the CEECC Program is to develop a predictive understanding of coastal ecosystem responses to climate in order to inform and facilitate management of the impact of climate change. So far, CSCOR's CEECC research has focused on sea level rise, fisheries, and protected resource impacts. These interdisciplinary research studies are helping to advance the state of the science and also lead to results with direct application to needs of state coastal resource and resource managers.