Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP)

Three short videos feature ocean scientists explaining processes that regulate climate and how changes are occurring in our oceans.

Aquatic Climate Change Video: Dr. Charles Hannah discusses potential climate change impacts to marine and freshwater ecosystems across Canada.

Ocean Acidification Video: Dr. Kumiko Azetsu-Scott explains ocean acidification and how oceans absorb carbon dioxide entering earth's atmosphere.

Low Oxygen/Marine Hypoxia Video: Dr. Denis Gilbert explains that some hypoxic dead zones occur naturally and others result from human activities. Some low oxygen areas, including one on the Pacific continental shelf, are linked to climate change.

Understanding and adapting to climate change

The Government of Canada announced $148.8 million in ongoing climate change adaptation funding over five years in 2011, including $16.5 million to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to implement the Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP).  The program is developing knowledge about climate change to integrate it into the delivery of departmental programs. The table shows climate change risks that impact divisions at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Climate Change Risks Impacted DFO Sectors
Sea-level rise and storm surges can impact safety & infrastructure Coast Guard, Small Craft Harbours, Oceans Management
Changes in ocean temperature, precipitation & freshwater runoff impact ecosystems Species at Risk, Habitat, Ecosystem Management
Decrease in water O2 and pH, and changes in nutrients may impact fisheries Fisheries Management, Oceans Management
The program has three components: 1) assessment of climate change risks and vulnerabilities in four large basins, 2) research to understand the impacts of climate change and 3) research to create applied science to adapt to climate change.
  1. Four Large Aquatic Basin Risk Assessments cover large areas of the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans plus Canada’s inland waters represented by the Lake Winnipeg and Great Lakes’ drainage systems. Each large basin assessment includes an analysis of climate trends and projections for the aquatic environment in order to help managers make strategic, climate-sensitive decisions about Departmental activities and assets which are at risk to a changing climate. Three streams of evidence with a bearing on the future are integrated into the risk assessments: 1) A science-based climate change risk analysis of ecosystem impacts, vulnerabilities and opportunities and infrastructure impacts; 2) a socio-economic evaluation, and 3) strategic policy concerns. The preliminary findings of the four large basin risk assessments are at the following links: 
  2. Secondly, the program’s research projects are developing science knowledge and tools for Understanding Impacts of Climate Change, and
  3. The program’s third component consists of research projects to create applied science Adaptation Tools and strategies to integrate climate change considerations into the delivery of departmental programs and policies.  The three priority areas for science knowledge and tools are: Canada’s North; Marine and Freshwater Infrastructure Impacts; and Marine and Freshwater Ecosystem Impacts. 
Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia / Photo DFO
Halifax Harbour, N.S. Photo: DFO
Resolute Bay in the Arctic Archipelago, Nunavut / Photo: DFO.
Severe storms due to climate change endanger the coastal infrastructure of Northern communities, Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories / Photo: M. Fortier, ArcticNet.

National Workshops

National workshops were conducted at the outset of the program to define Departmental needs for understanding climate change. Summaries are here: National Workshop Proceedings/ Client Needs; National Workshop Proceedings/ Science Needs  

Earlier efforts to understand the impacts of climate change on the Department are summarized here:  Climate Change Risk Assessment Report, 2005 ; National Climate Change Risk Profile, 2012 Update.

Climate change has been a research priority at DFO for some time. The Department’s Climate Change Science Initiative and its achievements were a precursor to ACCASP. On the international front, fourteen DFO scientists were among those recognized for their contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and for their "efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.In 2013, DFO scientists have again contributed to the latest IPCC assessment.

Severe storms due to climate change, impact infrastructure maintained by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The small craft harbour at Balsam Bay, Manitoba before and after an extreme 'weather bomb' storm. Photos: DFO
Severe storms due to climate change, impact infrastructure maintained by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The small craft harbour at Balsam Bay, Manitoba before and after an extreme 'weather bomb' storm. Photos: DFO
Severe storms due to climate change, impact infrastructure maintained by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The small craft harbour at Balsam Bay, Manitoba before and after an extreme 'weather bomb' storm. Photos: DFO

 Learn more about climate change adaptation at the Government of Canada Climate Change portal.