Climate: Marine Species Moving to the Poles

Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Blog, Coastal Resilience | 0 comments

On the one hand, it’s yet another study illustrating the obvious impacts of climate change. On the other hand, it’s an important new global meta-analysis showing that impacts of climate change are changing marine species’ behaviors faster than might have otherwise been expected.

A three-year study, from UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and funded by the National Science Foundation, shows that climate is causing marine species to change their feeding, breeding, and migration timing and behaviors, and generally shifting where the species reside.

The study shows marine species moving toward the poles at a rate of some 45 miles per decade — more than 10 times faster than terrestrial species. This, even though sea surface temperatures are warming slower than surface temperatures. The study also discovered spring events in the oceans are occurring more than four days earlier. Again, nearly twice the time-shift as on land.

The study reviewed a “marine-only database of 1,735 changes in marine life from the global peer-reviewed literature. The biological changes were documented from time series, with an average length of 40 years of observation.”

The message here is that climate impacts on fisheries — and the coastal economies that depend on them — are going to be felt sooner than we think.



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