Coast-to-Coast Seminar: How Will Marine Ecosystems Adapt to a Future Ocean That Will Be Warmer, More Stratified, More Acidic and Less Oxygenated?

Speaker: Dr. Ken Denman, Institute of Ocean Sciences


Abstract: Primarily from burning fossil fuels, humans are adding increasing amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. More than a third of this new carbon dioxide ends up in the ocean, and more than 90% of the additional heat from the greenhouse effect is entering the oceans. As a result the oceans are becoming warmer and more stratified, which reduces the mixing of nutrients from below up into the surface ocean and of oxygen from the surface layer down into the subsurface ocean. In addition the extra carbon dioxide is causing the oceans to become more acidic. Can we predict how whole
marine ecosystems will adapt, when we do not yet know how much capacity individual species have to adapt to these expected changes to their environment. I will outline a modelling framework to explore the capacity of species to adapt to a changing environment based on existing ‘phenotypic’ diversity and potential ‘plasticity’.


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