SBU Study Published in PLoS ONE Shows Rate of Temperature Change Along World’s Coastlines has Itself Changed Dramatically Over the Past Three Decades
Jun 28, 2013 - 4:30:00 PM
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Their results showed a great regional diversity in warming and cooling patterns. For example, the South American Pacific coasts have been cooling over the last few decades. To some, these cooling trends may be counterintuitive, but they are consistent with global climate change predictions, such as increases in upwelling (i.e., a process that brings cold, deep ocean water to the coast).
“The world is getting flatter,” said Baumann. “Coastal waters at high (cold) latitudes warm much faster than at low (warm) latitudes, hence the majority of the world’s coastal temperature gradients are getting shallower. This could cause dramatic reorganization of organisms and ecosystems, from small plankton communities to larger fish populations.
“We already know, in general, that marine life changes in its characteristics along these North-South temperature gradients,” Baumann explains. “For example, many coastal fish populations differ genetically from north to south, an adaptation to grow best a local temperature conditions. With further study, we want to explore how changes in coastal ocean temperature gradients could predict large-scale changes in the ecosystem.”
Baumann and Doherty’s work is especially poignant in that it echoes the importance of regional and community resiliency in dealing with the effects of climate change, which was stressed in President Obama’s address earlier this week. Regional consequences of climate change may be quite different. This study steps away from global average temperature predictions, and puts climate change in a more meaningful regional context.
About the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University
The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) is the State University of New York's center for marine and atmospheric research, education and public service. With more than 85 faculty and staff and more than 500 students engaged in interdisciplinary research and education, SoMAS is at the forefront of advancing knowledge and discovering and resolving environmental challenges affecting the oceans and atmosphere on both regional and global scales.
Citation: Baumann H, Doherty O (2013) Decadal Changes in the World's Coastal Latitudinal Temperature Gradients. PLoS ONE 8(6): e67596. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067596
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