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Projecting the Arctic Marine Ecosystem Response to Climate Change on a Regional Scale: Development of a Canadian Arctic Ecosystem Model


The graphic above — from a very preliminary regional model run (1986-2005) of Arctic marine waters—illustrates simulated nanophytoplankton concentration at the surface, averaged for July and August. Graphic: DFO

Observed and projected climate changes will have significant effects on marine ecosystems due to, for example, changes in sea-ice cover, the distribution of nutrients in the water column, and ocean acidification—an increase in ocean acidity (declining pH) as atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in surface waters, forming carbonic acid. This project will develop a high-resolution computer model of the Canadian Arctic ecosystem for analyzing and projecting the dominant regional processes that affect primary production and ocean acidification.

Model projections under different climate change scenarios will enable scientists to gain a better understanding of marine ecosystem impacts in Canada's North, identify changes in ecosystem structure and function, pinpoint hotspots and changes in marine production, and highlight regions that are sensitive to acidification. The addition of species distribution models will provide information about impacts on fish and marine life higher in the food web and, therefore, potential effects on commercial and subsistence fisheries. This research will support the development of climate change adaptation strategies by the Department.

Program Name

Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP)


Central Canada: Lake Winnipeg, Nelson River Drainage Basin

Principal Investigator(s)

Nadja Steiner
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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