The study of climate impacts on Living Marine Resources (LMRs) has increased rapidly in recent years with the availability of climate model simulations contributed to the assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Collaboration between climate and LMR scientists and shared understanding of critical challenges for such applications are essential for developing robust projections of climate impacts on LMRs. This paper assesses present approaches for generating projections of climate impacts on LMRs using IPCC-class climate models, recommends practices that should be followed for these applications, and identifies priority developments that could improve current projections. Understanding of the climate system and its representation within climate models has progressed to a point where many climate model outputs can now be used effectively to make LMR projections. However, uncertainty in climate model projections (particularly biases and inter-model spread at regional to local scales), coarse climate model resolution, and the uncertainty and potential complexity of the mechanisms underlying the response of LMRs to climate limit the robustness and precision of LMR projections. A variety of techniques including the analysis of multi-model ensembles, bias corrections, and statistical and dynamical downscaling can ameliorate some limitations, though the assumptions underlying these approaches and the sensitivity of results to their application must be assessed for each application. Developments in LMR science that could improve current projections of climate impacts on LMRs include improved understanding of the multi-scale mechanisms that link climate and LMRs and better representations of these mechanisms within more holistic LMR models. These developments require a strong baseline of field and laboratory observations including long time series and measurements over the broad range of spatial and temporal scales over which LMRs and climate interact. Priority developments for IPCC-class climate models include improved model accuracy (particularly at regional and local scales), inter-annual to decadal-scale predictions, and the continued development of earth system models capable of simulating the evolution of both the physical climate system and biosphere. Efforts to address these issues should occur in parallel and be informed by the continued application of existing climate and LMR models.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science