Aug
16
4:10 pm16:10

Economic Risks to Alaska Communities From Ocean Acidification

The highly productive fisheries of Alaska are located in seas projected to experience rapid transitions in temperature, pH, and other chemical parameters. Many of the marine organisms that are most affected by ocean acidification (OA) contribute substantially to the state’s commercial fisheries and traditional subsistence way of life. This study evaluates patterns of dependence on marine resources within Alaska that could be negatively affected by OA, as well as community economic characteristics, to assess the potential risk to the fishery sector and to local economies from OA. We used a risk assessment framework developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to combine projections of ocean chemistry, fisheries harvest data, and demographic information. The fisheries examined were: shellfish, salmon and other finfish. The final index incorporates all of these data to compare overall risk among Alaska census areas. The analysis showed that regions in southeast and southwest Alaska that are highly reliant on fishery harvests and have relatively lower incomes and employment alternatives likely face the highest risk from OA. There are also some surprising results.  For example, Anchorage has a relatively high index of risk, while Kodiak’s is lower than might be expected.

Aug
16
3:10 pm15:10

Intro to OA, and Integrated Ocean Acidification Monitoring in Coastal Alaska

Over the last several years, ocean acidification (OA) has emerged as one of the most prominent issues in marine research. In Alaska, the scientific community has been working together for nearly 10 years to collect critical ocean acidification data in coastal areas to identify the duration, intensity, and extent of OA events that could pose a serious threat to vulnerable Alaska subsistence communities and commercial fishing. Global and regional observations and climatological models show that OA on the Alaskan coast will create some of the most rapid environmental transitions in the world, putting additional stress on ecosystems that are already responding to other stressors. Parts of the Bering Sea are exposed to corrosive conditions for at least four months each year, and conditions also worsening in the Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska.  Precise monitoring and accurate forecasts of OA conditions can help Alaskans to better prepare for the future. New ways of collecting and integrating environmental intelligence and identifying OA risks are currently being developed for the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, with the ultimate goal to help build resilience and design adaptation strategies for dealing with ocean acidification