Members of the German research network BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification) are developing a model that links ecosystem changes triggered by ocean acidification and climate change with their economic and societal consequences.
Workshops and interviews with stakeholders from the Norwegian fishing industry and tourism sector, the government and environmental organisations help them to identify key aspects for their assessment.
During the past ten years, scientists have learned a lot about the effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems. It has become obvious that with rising carbon dioxide emissions from human activities, oceans absorb larger amounts of this greenhouse gas and become more acidic. The increase of acidity, rising water temperatures and other stressors may alter marine ecosystems dramatically – with consequences for economy and society.
Do stakeholders of the economic sectors which depend on the sea already observe signs of ocean change? Which are their most urgent questions towards science? Within the framework of the German research network BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification), scientists from the University of Bremen investigated stakeholders’ state of knowledge and identified focal points for further research. Between March and November 2013, they held workshops and interviewed more than 30 Norwegian fishers, representatives from fishing associations, aquaculture, tourism, environmental organisations and governmental agencies. They aim to develop a model that yields insights into the overall impacts of ocean change for ecosystems and the services they provide to human societies.
“Taking a systems view can help to analyse socio-economic impacts of ocean acidification and find ways to mitigate them and adapt to them”, Dr. Stefan Gößling-Reisemann, researcher at the Sustainability Research Center (artec) at the University of Bremen explains. “This is why we connect stakeholders and scientists and adapt further research to the demands of society.” Norway was chosen because the fishing industry, a branch that is likely to be hit first by effects of climate change, plays a very important economic role there. Also, tourism is strongly connected to coastal regions and fjords. The analysis of this region, for which earth system models predict early impacts of ocean acidification and warming, can serve as an example for other social-ecological systems.
Obvious effects of climate change are already perceived by the stakeholders in the northward range shifts of cod and mackerel stocks and the immigration of sardines into Norwegian waters. Fishers also noticed variations of timing and location of spawning. “It was impressive to see how much knowledge fishers have about ecological links and changes”, Stefan Koenigstein, marine biologist in the research project points out. “Based on their experience, fishers wondered if future changes in the ecosystem will be abrupt or if there will be time to adapt. These are exactly the questions that the scientists in the field are concerned with. People who are actually affected by the changes in their livelihoods can contribute a lot with their first-hand experience and should be taken along in the research process.”
To prepare properly for future conditions, fishing associations asked for an assessment that incorporates dynamics of different life stages and the availability of food for commercial species. “Because of the complexity of marine food webs, questions were posed on how interactions between species would change, what would happen if key species were impacted and what chain reactions might happen”, Koenigstein summarizes.
Changes in fish stocks would also have dramatic socio-economic impacts, the scientists conclude from their interviews. The number of fishers has steadily been reduced to keep up the fisheries’ productivity – this step might be taken again to cope with shrinking or moving stocks. In Northern Norway, where fishery is a coastal activity, most boats are too small to follow stocks if they move from coastal waters to the open sea. “Especially in remote regions, alternatives to earn a living are very limited”, Koenigstein explains. “Also, fishing is important for the coastal Sami culture that is still vivid in the far North of the country, but in many fjords, fish stocks have disappeared. To these people, losing this aspect of their lives means losing part of their identity.”
With its coastline, islands and fjords, with game fishing as an important recreational activity both for locals and guests and with busy whale watching companies, Norway benefits strongly from the sea in its tourism sector. A decrease of biodiversity was regarded as major threat.
After their survey, the scientists took a lot of homework back to their offices. “Our analysis yielded much insight on the connections and interactions between the ecosystem, economy and society”, Dr. Gößling-Reisemann concludes. The researchers are now busy incorporating as many as possible of the elements identified through this study into their model, which aims to explain mechanisms and uncertainties, identify critical parameters and explore possible futures and adaptation strategies. “In any case, we have already learned a lot from the people that are in contact with the oceans every day.”
Maike Nicolai | EurekAlert!
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy