Vulnerability and adaptation of US shellfisheries to ocean acidification

Journal name:
Nature Climate Change
Volume:
5,
Pages:
207–214
Year published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/nclimate2508
Received
Accepted
Published online

Abstract

Ocean acidification is a global, long-term problem whose ultimate solution requires carbon dioxide reduction at a scope and scale that will take decades to accomplish successfully. Until that is achieved, feasible and locally relevant adaptation and mitigation measures are needed. To help to prioritize societal responses to ocean acidification, we present a spatially explicit, multidisciplinary vulnerability analysis of coastal human communities in the United States. We focus our analysis on shelled mollusc harvests, which are likely to be harmed by ocean acidification. Our results highlight US regions most vulnerable to ocean acidification (and why), important knowledge and information gaps, and opportunities to adapt through local actions. The research illustrates the benefits of integrating natural and social sciences to identify actions and other opportunities while policy, stakeholders and scientists are still in relatively early stages of developing research plans and responses to ocean acidification.

At a glance

Figures

  1. Conceptual framework structuring the analysis of vulnerability to ocean acidification.
    Figure 1: Conceptual framework structuring the analysis of vulnerability to ocean acidification.

    Vulnerability analyses can focus on three key dimensions (exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity): (1) the extent and degree to which assets are exposed to the hazard of concern; (2) the sensitivity of people to the exposure; and (3) the adaptive capacity of people to prepare for and mitigate the exposure's impacts. These three dimensions together provide a relative view of a place's overall vulnerability. Adapted conceptual model components from refs 16,52,53,54,55.

  2. Overall vulnerability of places to ocean acidification.
    Figure 2: Overall vulnerability of places to ocean acidification.

    a–f, Scores of relative social vulnerability are shown on land (by coastal county cluster) and the type and degree of severity of OA and local amplifiers to which coastal marine bioregions are exposed, mapped by ocean bioregion: contiguous US West Coast (a), Northeast (b), Chesapeake Bay (c), the Gulf of Mexico and the coast of Florida and Georgia (d), the Hawaii Islands (e), and Alaska (f). Social vulnerability (red tones) is represented with darker colours where it is relatively high. Exposure (purple tones) is indicated by the year at which sublethal thresholds for bivalve larvae are predicted to be reached, based on climate model projections using the RCP8.5 CO2 emission scenario27. Exposure to this global OA pressure is higher in regions reaching this threshold sooner. Additionally, the presence and degree of exposure to local amplifiers of OA are indicated for each bioregion: E(x/y) marks bioregions in which highly eutrophic estuaries are documented, x is the number of estuaries scored as high, and y is the total number evaluated in each bioregion56, locations of highly eutrophic estuaries are marked with a star; R(x/y) marks bioregions in which river water draining into the bioregion scored in the top quintile of an index designed to identify rivers with a very low saturation state and high annual discharge volume (calculated by authors from US Geological Survey data57), x is the number of rivers scoring in the top quintile of those evaluated, and y is the total number evaluated in this study. Approximate locations of river outflows of those rivers scoring in the top quintile are marked with a yellow triangle, and U marks bioregions where upwelling is very strong in at least part of the bioregion58.

  3. Sample of gaps in knowledge related to OA vulnerability, organized around components of the framework.
    Figure 3: Sample of gaps in knowledge related to OA vulnerability, organized around components of the framework.

    Different types of gaps are classified by the level of effort that is required to fill them (gaining knowledge is the most challenging, whereas data access tends to be the most straightforward). 212

References

  1. IPCC. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability Part B: Regional Aspects. (eds Field, C. B. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).
  2. Waldbusser, G. G., Voigt, E. P., Bergschneider, H., Green, M. A. & Newell, R. I. E. Long-term trends in Chesapeake Bay pH and effects on biocalcification in the Eastern Oyster Crassostrea virginica. Estuar. Coasts 34, 221231 (2011).
  3. Cai, W-J. et al. Acidification of subsurface coastal waters enhanced by eutrophication. Nature Geosci. 4, 766770 (2011).
  4. Feely, R. A., Sabine, C. L., Hernandez-Ayon, J. M., Ianson, D. & Hales, B. Evidence for upwelling of corrosive 'acidified' water onto the continental shelf. Science 320, 14901492 (2008).
  5. Salisbury, J., Green, M., Hunt, C. W. & Campbell, J. Coastal acidification by rivers: a threat to shellfish? EOS Trans. Am. Geophys. Union 89, 513528 (2008).
  6. IPCC. Report of the IPCC Workshop on Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biology and Ecosystems, 164 (Carnegie Inst., 2011).
  7. Duarte, C. M. et al. Is ocean acidification an open-ocean syndrome? Understanding anthropogenic impacts on seawater pH. Estuar. Coasts 36, 221236 (2013).
  8. Kelly, R. P. et al. Mitigating local causes of ocean acidification with existing laws. Science 332, 10361037 (2011).
  9. Waldbusser, G. G. & Salisbury, J. E. Ocean acidification in the coastal zone from an organism's perspective: multiple system parameters, frequency domains, and habitats. Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci. 6, 221247 (2014).
  10. Gazeau, F. et al. Impacts of ocean acidification on marine shelled molluscs. Mar. Biol. 160, 22072245 (2013).
  11. Parker, L. M. et al. Predicting the response of molluscs to the impact of ocean acidification. Biology 2, 651692 (2013).
  12. Kroeker, K. J. et al. Impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms: quantifying sensitivities and interaction with warming. Glob. Change Biol. 19, 18841896 (2013).
  13. Ocean Acidification: From Knowledge to Action. Washington State's Strategic Response. (Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, 2012); https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/publications/1201015.pdf
  14. Cooley, S. R., Lucey, N., Kite-Powell, H. & Doney, S. C. Nutrition and income from molluscs today imply vulnerability to ocean acidification tomorrow. Fish Fisher. 13, 182215 (2012).
  15. Mathis, J. T. et al. Ocean acidification risk assessment for Alaska's fishery sector. Prog. Oceanogr. (in the press).
  16. Hilmi, N. et al. Exposure of Mediterranean countries to ocean acidification. Water 6, 17191744 (2014).
  17. National Estuary Research Reserve System; http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov/
  18. Waldbusser, G. G. et al. A developmental and energetic basis linking larval oyster shell formation to ocean acidification. Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 21712176 (2013).
  19. Waldbusser, G. G. et al. Saturation-state sensitivity of marine bivalve larvae to ocean acidification. Nature Clim. Change http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2479 (2014).
  20. Barton, A., Hales, B., Waldbusser, G. G., Langdon, C. & Feely, R. A. The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, shows negative correlation to naturally elevated carbon dioxide levels: Implications for near-term ocean acidification effects. Limnol. Oceanogr. 57, 698710 (2012).
  21. Jepson, M. & Colburn, L. L. Development of Social Indicators of Fishing Community Vulnerability and Resilience in the US Southeast and Northeast Regions. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-F/SPO-129 (US Dept Commerce, 2013).
  22. Feely, R. A. et al. The combined effects of ocean acidification, mixing, and respiration on pH and carbonate saturation in an urbanized estuary. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 88, 442449 (2010).
  23. Gruber, N. et al. Rapid progression of ocean acidification in the California Current system. Science 337, 220223 (2012).
  24. Hauri, C. et al. Spatiotemporal variability and long-term trends of ocean acidification in the California Current system. Biogeosci. 10, 193216 (2013).
  25. Ocean Acidification Resolution: Establishing the Commission to Study the Effects of Ocean Acidification and its Potential Effects on Commercial Shellfish Harvested and Grown Along the Maine Coast (126th Maine Legislature, 2014); http://go.nature.com/tDN5Xh
  26. Veneziano, S. in Boothbay Register (Maine, 2014).
  27. van Hooidonk, R. J., Maynard, J. A., Manzello, D. & Planes, S. Opposite latitudinal gradients in projected ocean acidification and bleaching impacts on coral reefs. Glob. Change Biol. 103112, (2014).
  28. Bricker, S. et al. Effects of nutrient enrichment in the nation's estuaries: A decade of change. Harmful Algae 8, 2132 (2008).
  29. Zins, C. Conceptual approaches for defining data, information, and knowledge. J. Am. Soc. Inform. Sci. 58, 479493 (2007).
  30. Boisot, M. & Canals, A. Data, information and knowledge: Have we got it right? J. Evol. Econ. 14, 4367 (2004).
  31. Harris, K. E., DeGrandpre, M. D. & Hales, B. Aragonite saturation state dynamics in a coastal upwelling zone. Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 16 (2013).
  32. Doney, S. C. The growing human footprint on coastal and open-ocean syndrome? Understanding anthropogenic impacts on seawater pH. Science 328, 15121516 (2010).
  33. Newton, J. A., Feely, R. A., Jewett, E. B., Williamson, P. & Mathis, J. T. Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network: Requirements and Governance Plan (Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), 2014).
  34. Office of Science and Technology. NMFS Commercial Fisheries Statistics (2003–2012) (NOAA, 2014); http://go.nature.com/4HvsQG
  35. Pespeni, M. H. et al. Evolutionary change during experimental ocean acidification. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110, 69376942 (2013).
  36. Sunday, J. M. et al. Evolution in an acidifying ocean. Trends Ecol. Evol. 29, 117125 (2014).
  37. Hofmann, G. E. et al. Exploring local adaptation and the ocean acidification seascape: studies in the California Current large marine ecosystem. Biogeosci. Discuss. 10, 1182511856 (2013).
  38. Adger, W. N. Social capital, collective action and adaptation to climate change. Econ. Geogr. 79, 387404 (2003).
  39. Wolf, J. Climate Change Adaptation as a Social Process Vol. 42 (Springer, 2011).
  40. Moser, S. C. & Ekstrom, J. A. A framework to diagnose barriers to climate change adaptation. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107, 2202622031 (2010).
  41. Moser, S. C. & Ekstrom, J. A. Identifying and Overcoming Barriers to Climate Change Adaptation in San Francisco Bay: Results from Case Studies. CEC-500-2012-034 (California Energy Commission, 2012).
  42. Kahan, D. M. Fixing the communications failure. Nature 463, 296297 (2010).
  43. Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C. & Leiserowitz, A. Global Warming's Six Americas 2009: An Audience Segmentation Analysis (Yale Project on Climate Change, George Mason Univ. Center for Climate Change Communication, 2009).
  44. Peters, R. G., Covello, V. T. & McCallum, D. B. The determinants of trust and credibility in environmental risk communication: an empirical study. Risk Anal. 17, 4354 (1997).
  45. Adger, W. N. et al. Are there social limits to adaptation to climate change? Clim. Change 93, 335354 (2009).
  46. Adger, W. N., Barnett, J., Brown, K., Marshall, N. & O'Brien, K. Cultural dimensions of climate change impacts and adaptation. Nature Clim. Change 3, 112117 (2013).
  47. Kelly, P. M. & Adger, W. N. Theory and practice in assessing vulnerability to climate change and facilitating adaptation. Clim. Change 47, 325352 (2000).
  48. Moser, S. C., Kasperson, R. E., Yohe, G. & Agyeman, J. Adaptation to climate change in the Northeast United States: opportunities, processes, constraints. Mitig. Adapt. Strateg. Glob. Change 13, 643659 (2008).
  49. Vogel, C., Moser, S. C., Kasperson, R. E. & Dabelko, G. D. Linking vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience science to practice: Pathways, players, and partnerships. Glob. Environ. Change 17, 349364 (2007).
  50. Dilling, L. & Lemos, M. C. Creating usable science: opportunities and constraints for climate knowledge and their implications for science policy. Glob. Environ. Change 21, 680689 (2010).
  51. Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification (Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification, 2014); http://go.nature.com/3fr7Bq
  52. Cutter, S. L., Boruff, B. J. & Shirley, W. L. Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Social Sci. Q. 84, 242261 (2003).
  53. Marshall, N. et al. A framework for social adaptation to climate change: sustaining tropical coastal communities and industries, 36 (IUCN, 2010).
  54. Cardona, O. et al. in IPCC Special Report of Working Groups I and II: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (eds Field, C. et al.) 65108 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012).
  55. Turner, B. L. I. et al. A framework for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 100, 80748079 (2003).
  56. Bricker, S. et al. Effects of Nutrient Enrichment in the Nation's Estuaries: A Decade of Change, 328 (National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, 2007).
  57. USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) Database (US Geological Survey, accessed April 2014); http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis
  58. Hoekstra, J. M. et al. Upwelling Presence by Marine Province (Univ. California Press, 2010).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Natural Resources Defense Council, 111 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 94104, USA

    • Julia A. Ekstrom
  2. Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 West 20th Street, New York, New York 10011, USA

    • Lisa Suatoni
  3. Ocean Conservancy, 1300 19th Street NW, Washington DC 20036, USA

    • Sarah R. Cooley
  4. Nicholas Institute, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA

    • Linwood H. Pendleton
  5. Université de Brest, UMR M101, AMURE, OSU-IUEM, Brest, France

    • Linwood H. Pendleton
  6. College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA

    • George G. Waldbusser
  7. ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

    • Josh E. Cinner
  8. Duke University, Duke Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA

    • Jessica Ritter,
    • Dan Rittschof &
    • Carolyn Doherty
  9. Department of Marine Biology and Ecology, Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Florida 33149, USA

    • Chris Langdon
  10. NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, Florida 33149, USA

    • Ruben van Hooidonk
  11. NOAA Ocean Acidification Program, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA

    • Dwight Gledhill
  12. Northern Economics, Seattle, Washington 98107, USA

    • Katharine Wellman
  13. The Nature Conservancy, Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA

    • Michael W. Beck
  14. Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University, Amsterdam, 1081 HV, The Netherlands

    • Luke M. Brander
  15. Coral Reef Conservation Program, NOAA/National Ocean Service, Office for Coastal Management, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA

    • Peter E. T. Edwards
  16. I.M. Systems Group Inc., Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA

    • Peter E. T. Edwards
  17. Conservation International, Arlington Virginia 22202, USA

    • Rosimeiry Portela
  18. Present address: Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy, University of California at Davis, 1605 Tilia Street 100, Davis 95616, California, USA

    • Julia A. Ekstrom

Contributions

All authors provided input into data analysis and research design, and participated in at least one SESYNC workshop; J.A.E. led the drafting of the text with main contributions from L.S., S.R.C., L.H.P., G.G.W. and J.E.C.; R.v.H. contributed projections of ocean acidification; L.H.P. contributed shelled mollusc diversity scores; J.A.E., L.S., S.R.C., J.R., L.H.P. and C.D. collected the data; J.A.E. carried out data analysis and mapping.

Competing financial interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to:

Author details

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. Supplementary Information (2,107KB)

    Supplementary Information

Additional data