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 Other Potential Climate Change Effects in the Oceans

 Other Potential Climate Change Effects in the Oceans

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depth of stratification, salinity (fresher in the higher latitudes and more salty in the

subtropics), and the oxygen concentration of the ventilated thermocline (IPCC,

2007). Climate change, for instance, is predicted to modify coastal upwelling either

by intensifying (Bakun, 1990) or weakening it (Vecchi et al., 2006), depending on

the model used. These changes are predicted to affect, for example, survivorship and delivery of propagules to the shore as well as food supply in coastal

ecosystems. On rocky shores for instance, increasing upwelling intensity and duration in intermittent upwelling regions such as the Oregon coast during the summer

will reduce sessile invertebrate larval recruitment (by moving the larval pool further offshore) lowering abundances of sessile invertebrates and through higher nutrient fluxes increase macrophytes, thus making rocky intertidal habitats in Oregon

more similar to those in California (Menge et al., 2004). Alternatively, if upwelling

is reduced, the structure of the seaweed assemblages will change, with decreases in

Laminarians and likely some red algae, and enhanced abundances of sessile invertebrates (due to higher recruitment, see Connolly and Roughgarden, 1999).

Increasing sea levels will permanently submerge some intertidal areas while

others might be created changing the mosaic of communities along the shore. In

areas where tidal amplitudes are small, such as the Mediterranean Sea, sea-level

rise can change the structure of communities because the ratio of vertical versus

horizontal surfaces will probably change and communities on different rock

aspects are different (Vaselli et al., 2008). In regions where most of the rocky

shore is horizontal and at mean sea level, for example where vermetid platforms

are found (warm temperate seas such as the eastern Mediterranean, Bermuda,

Safriel, 1974), a rapid sea-level rise would cause an inundation of most of the

intertidal zone by seawater, effectively turning the platforms into subtidal reefs.

Based on measurements of sea-level rise for the eastern Mediterranean (~8.5 cm

between 1992 and 2008) and projections for the next 100 years of up to a meter

or more (Rosen, 2008), most of the Israeli rocky shore will be underwater and

that unique ecosystem will be mostly lost.

Increasing storm intensity, including tropical storms (hurricanes, cyclones),

will increase the frequency and severity of disturbance inflicted on coastal communities such as mangroves, coral reefs, and rocky shores. There is already evidence that a progressive decadal increase in deep-water wave heights and periods

have increased breaker heights and elevated storm wave run-up levels on beaches

in the US Pacific Northwest (Allan and Komar, 2006). This of course can have

substantial effects on disturbance regimes on the shore that surely will affect the

structure of coastal ecological communities (Dayton and Tegner, 1984; Underwood,

1998). Larger, stronger storms are also expected to increase beach erosion. The

resultant increased erosion of the shore can also affect coastal geomorphology,

increase sedimentation, and therefore affect the ecology of the shore. A study on

the Oregon shore that looked at effects of a cliff collapse (and with it highway

101) and reconstruction showed how rocky intertidal communities have been

altered due to change in small-scale geomorphology and possibly sediment accumulation on the shore (Rilov, unpublished data).



The rate at which physical changes caused by global climate change might

unfold could be slow, but they could also be fast and therefore their manifestation

in the structure of communities and in biodiversity could be strong and immediate.

For example, the onset of hypoxia on the shelf of Oregon coast in 2002 was

relatively sudden and unprecedented (Grantham et al., 2004; Chan et al., 2008).

Hypoxic conditions have since re-occurred each summer, and greatly intensified

such that conditions were anoxic in 2006 (Chan et al., 2008). This resulted in massive die-offs of benthic invertebrates (e.g., crabs, sea stars) and the dwindling of

reef fishes on subtidal reefs (Service, 2004). The delayed upwelling observed in

2005 on the Oregon coast (Barth et al., 2007) had not been observed in at least the

previous 20 years, and had immediate consequences for concentrations of phytoplankton and larvae of sessile invertebrates. These intense coastal events seem to

correspond with larger-scale oceanographic and atmospheric changes in the

North Pacific that are consistent with global climate-change scenarios (e.g., Hooff

and Peterson, 2006; Barth et al., 2007) and may linger and therefore have profound ecological effects on regional and potentially global scales.

5. Predictions and Projections

In the past few years, there has been great effort to develop conceptual and numerical models that aim to forecast the ecological and economical impacts of climate

change on marine ecosystems. There are a dozen such projections in the current

literature of which we will mention only a few examples. Paleontological studies

of marine ecosystems can also aid in predicting how certain changes in ocean conditions might affect species and ecological communities. For example, Yasuhara

et al. (2008) show how deep-sea benthic ecosystems communities collapsed

several times during the past 20,000 years in correspondence with rapid climatic

changes that lasted over centuries or less, demonstrating that climate change can

have profound effects in the deep ocean and should therefore be considered in the

current models. Scientists now attempt to model effects on local, regional, oceanic,

or even whole-planet scales, depending on the question and information at hand.

On oceanic scales, a multispecies, functional group, coupled oceanatmosphere model that examined mostly primary producers’ response to

regional biogeochemical conditions suggests significant changes by the end

of this century in ecosystem structure, caused mostly by shifts in the areal

extent of biomes (Boyd and Doney, 2002). Whitehead et al. (2008) examined

the response of the other end of the food chain, deep-sea cetaceans, by studying their current distribution patterns in relation with sea-surface temperature, and concluded that climate change will cause declines of cetacean

diversity across the tropics and increases at higher latitudes. In the coastal

environment, the large, brackish, semi-enclosed Baltic Sea is predicted to

freshen (owing to altered precipitation patterns) and warm up resulting in a

shift in biodiversity due to the contraction of more marine species out of the



system and the expansion of more freshwater species (Mackenzie et al.,

2007). In several major US bays, Galbraith et al. (2002) predict that even

with conservative estimates of climate change, sea-level rise will cause losses

of intertidal areas that range between 20% and 70% of the current intertidal

habitat that support extensive populations of migrating and wintering shorebirds. Such losses could considerably reduce the ability of these bays to support their present shorebird numbers.

Recent extensive reviews also attempt to predict the consequences of global

climate change to marine ecosystems at different regions. Australia’s marine life

is projected to change considerably due to the multitude of present and future

effects of climate change with the most serious and worrisome effects inflicted on

the unique system of the Great Barrier Reef (Poloczanska et al., 2007). The small

but highly diverse Mediterranean Sea is projected to transform its biological

diversity due (among many other things) to climate change (Gambaiani et al.,

2009). On Antarctic coasts, Smale and Barnes (2008) predict that the intensity of

ice scouring will increase and later sedimentation and freshening events will

become important, all leading to increased disturbance and considerable changes

in benthic community structure and species distributions. And the list goes on.

Climate change is of course but one process by which humans are affecting marine biodiversity. To it, we can add invasions of alien species (that can

be accelerated by climate change) and of course over-harvesting, pollution,

and habitat destruction. Many of these threats may act in synergy and produce

changes in biodiversity that are more pervasive than those caused by single

disturbances (Sala and Knowlton, 2006). What then is the future of marine

biodiversity in light of all these threats? Extinctions that are already happening

will probably accelerate and the homogenization of communities due to climate effects and invasions will reduce the uniqueness of ecosystems on a global

scale. Even if the current trends of destruction reverse at some point in the

near future, recovery of individual species that were at the brink may take

longer than expected because of Allee effects, changes in trophic community

structure, difficult-to-reverse habitat changes, or a combination of several factors (Sala and Knowlton, 2006). Recovery of diversity at the community level

will probably take much longer. Although the future seems grim for global

biodiversity, both terrestrial and marine, we wish to conclude with a positive

note that suggests that perhaps not all is doomed. Ehrlich and Pringle (2008)

propose several strategies that, “if implemented soundly and scaled up dramatically, would preserve a substantial portion of global biodiversity.” Those

strategies include stabilization of human population, reduction of material

consumption, the deployment of endowment funds, and taking major steps

toward conservation using large, permanent, protected areas. This of course

will require tremendous vision, effort, and mostly will by our species; however, mankind faced great challenges in the past and prevailed, and so we can

only hope that it will rise again to face this climate change and biodiversity




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from the northward range extension of the marine snail, Kelletia kelletii (Forbes, 1852). J. Biogeogr.

30: 913–924.

Biodata of Ugarte, R.A., Craigie, J.S., and Critchley, A.T., authors of “Fucoid

Flora of the Rocky Intertidal of the Canadian Maritimes: Implications for the Future

with Rapid Climate Change”

Dr. Raul A. Ugarte graduated as Marine Biologist from the Universidad de

Concepción in Chile in 1982. He worked on the establishment of Gracilaria

farms in southern Chile until 1984 and later joined the laboratory of Dr. Bernabé

Santelices at the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, where he worked on

applied phycology until 1988. Later that year, he traveled to Canada for a training

program on resource management with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans

(DFO), under the direction of Dr. John Pringle and Glyn Sharp.

In 1990, he enrolled in a graduate program at Dalhousie University in Halifax,

Canada, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1994. In 1995, Raul joined Acadian

Seaplants Limited, the largest independent seaweed processing company in Canada,

where he remains as a research scientist until today. Dr. Ugarte is responsible for

the extensive annual stock assessment program to evaluate biomass of the resource

Ascophyllum nodosum along an extension of more than 2,500 km of shoreline

under the company’s responsibility in the Maritime Region of eastern Canada. His

responsibilities with this resource also include research on habitat impact of

commercial harvesting, population dynamics, and ecological research as well as the

biomass assessment of other economically important seaweed species (e.g., Chondrus,

Alaria, Laminaria, etc.). His work, spanning more than 20 years in the rocky intertidal of the Maritimes, has given him a unique insight into the distribution and

abundance of the seaweed flora of the region.

Dr. Ugarte currently lives in Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada.

E-mail: rugarte@acadian.ca


A. Israel et al. (eds.), Seaweeds and their Role in Globally Changing Environments,

Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology 15, 69–90

DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-8569-6_5, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



Dr. James S. Craigie currently is Researcher Emeritus, National Research Council

of Canada, and Science Advisor for Acadian Seaplants Limited. He obtained

his Ph.D. in 1959 from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada. Additional

research and studies were continued at CNRA, Versailles, and at the University

College of Wales, Swansea. Dr. Craigie returned to Canada in 1960 to accept a

phycology position at the Atlantic Regional Laboratory (Institute for Marine Biosciences), National Research Council of Canada, Halifax, NS. He was a Visiting

Scholar 1967–1968 at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Dr. Craigie is a chartered member and past president of the Canadian

Society of Plant Physiologists, and has served as Editor of the Journal of

Phycology and as Associate Editor of the Journal of the World Aquaculture

Society. His interests encompass algal aquaculture, production, primary and secondary metabolites including polysaccharides and polyphenols. He developed

and taught graduate level courses in marine plant biochemistry and physiology

(Biology and Oceanography) at Dalhousie University from 1964 to 2000. His

research contributions have been recognized through numerous publications and

awards including the Darbaker Award and Prize, National Research Council of

Canada Industrial Partnership Award, the Marinalg International Honorary

Certificate, Federal Partners in Technology Transfer Innovator of the Year

Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Award, the Bionova Nova Scotia

Award of Excellence, and the Phycological Society of America Award of

Excellence. He continues to conduct research and mentor staff at Acadian

Seaplants Limited and the Institute for Marine Biosciences in Halifax.

E-mail: James.Craigie@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca



Alan T. Critchley is a reformed Academic. He graduated from Portsmouth Polytechnic,

UK, and had a university career in southern Africa teaching phycology, marine

ecology, and botany (KwaZulu Natal, Wits, and Namibia). He moved to the “dark

side” in 2001 and took up a position in a multinational industry with Degussa

Texturant Systems (now Cargill TS), where he was responsible for new raw materials

for the extraction of the commercial colloid carrageenan. Since 2005, he has worked

as vice president, Research for Acadian Seaplants Limited, working on value addition to seaweed extracts and on-land cultivation of seaweed for food and bioactive

compounds. Not able to turn his back on the academic world entirely, he is presently

adjunct professor at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.

E-mail: Alan.Critchley@acadian.ca

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