I provided insights, evaluation, and a summary of current research to help an ocean non-profit fortify their strategic response to a rapidly change world. The science team wanted a concise review of the most severe ocean stressors, due to climate change, and their interactions. I summarized the impacts of ocean warming, decreased oxygen concentrations, and ocean acidification – assessing the ways in which these stressors influence each other, and the probabilities that they could, singly or in combination, tip the ocean’s physical, biological, and chemical systems into disarray. I produced an annotated bibliography, synthesized the literature and emerging themes, and recommended leading experts based on my research. With a quick turnaround time, I provided in-depth information and synthetic understanding of the scientific basis of ocean climate change to support the non-profit’s emerging strategy.
Questions we're asking
- What are the primary stressors imposed on the oceans by climate change? What do we currently know and not know about how they interact with each other?
- How do stressors such as warming, deoxygenation, and acidification interact with non-climate impacts such as nutrient pollution and overfishing?
- How and to what extent might such interactions threaten ocean structure and function?
Problems we're solving
International climate negotiations hardly touch on oceans, which are the major mediator of climate-change impacts – taking up 93% of the heat and 28% of the carbon dioxide that fossil-fuel burning has added to the atmosphere, and protecting us from dangerous climate disruption. Understanding what we do and don’t know about interactions between stressors – when the consequences of multi-stressor interactions might be worse than anything we could predict from single stressors – could galvanize greater action on climate mitigation and a greater recognition of both the life-supporting role of the oceans and the risks they face from climate change.
Photo credit: Cindi Stephan, Two Irises, 2016 California