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Projections of Future Oceanic Biogeochemical Conditions Using a Coupled Regional Climate Downscaling Model of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Scotian Shelf and Gulf of Maine


Illustration: This is an example of the biophysical conditions that will be projected up to 2069 using the regional climate downscaling system: mean simulated chlorophyll a concentration (mg m-3) in the upper 50 metres over the model domain, displaying the spring bloom on the Scotian Shelf (March 20, 2006). The white cells indicate the presence of sea ice. Illustration Credit: Corinne Bourgault-Brunelle, DFO.

Observed changes in the oceans over the last several decades—including higher ocean temperatures, lower salinities and decreasing sea ice cover—could affect ecosystem productivity. If climate change causes these trends to persist, associated changes in biogeochemical processes and marine food web relationships could severely reduce ecosystem productivity, causing shifts in the distribution of species and displacement of fisheries from one location to another.

To improve understanding of what governs interannual changes in primary marine production in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Scotian Shelf, and the Gulf of Maine (GSL-SS-GoM), we use a high-resolution regional climate downscaling system. The computer model will be used to make long-term projections (up to the year 2069) of biogeochemical conditions for the GSL-SS-GoM, including dissolved oxygen concentrations, pH (a measure of acidity) and other measurements related to ocean acidification. Other researchers will use the model results to determine the impacts of climate change on different commercial fisheries, which will help management to predict and adapt to marine habitat loss and changes in the use of infrastructure, as well as aid in the planning of Marine Protected Areas.

Program Name

Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP)


Atlantic: Gulf of St. Lawrence, St. Lawrence Estuary

Principal Investigator(s)

Diane Lavoie
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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