This report summarizes discussions and recommendations for a future research program on Climate
Change and the Carrying Capacity (CCCC) of the North Pacific. The material presented in this report
is the product of a U.S. GLOBEC workshop held at the Battelle Conference Center in Seattle,
Washington, in April 1995. The need for the workshop stemmed from the development of a Science
Plan for a international coordinated research effort on Climate Change and the Carrying Capacity,
which was approved by the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), in October 1994. In
response to the PICES Science Plan, the U.S. GLOBEC Scientific Steering Committee agreed to
support a community-wide workshop to explore issues of the oceanic and coastal domains of the
Subarctic Pacific and the Bering Sea relevant to U.S. GLOBEC.
The Research Program
The central scientific issues to be addressed by the PICES/GLOBEC CCCC program are:
- Physical forcing: What are the characteristics of climate variability; can interdecadal patterns
be identified; how and when do they arise?
- Lower trophic level response: How do primary and secondary producers respond in
productivity, and in species and size composition, to climate variability in different ecosystems of the
- Higher trophic level response: How do life history patterns, distributions, vital rates, and
population dynamics of higher trophic level species respond directly and indirectly to climate
- Ecosystem interactions: How are Subarctic Pacific ecosystems structured? Do higher trophic
levels respond to climate variability solely as a consequence of bottom-up forcing? Are there
significant intra-trophic level and top-down effects on lower trophic level production and on energy
Recommendations for Initial Activities:
In this document we highlight four broad research questions that focus on physical forcing, lower
trophic level response, higher trophic level response and ecosystem interactions. Efforts to define
sub–sets of research projects that would advance our knowledge of the North Pacific and Bering Sea
system and provide insight to these research questions were identified in each of the regional breakout
sessions. Examples of potential projects that could be conducted to address the sub–set of questions
were advanced for each of the three study regions (the oceanic and coastal domains of the Subarctic
Pacific, and the Bering Sea). These questions could form the basis of Announcements of Opportunity
for research at a later date. Key research activities related to these issues included retrospective
analyses, development of models, process studies, development of observational systems
(monitoring), and data management. If funds could be secured to support this program, the first AO
would probably emphasize retrospective, modeling, and monitoring studies.
Contributions of a U.S. GLOBEC CCCC program might include:
- The development and/or refinement of coupled bio-physical models that could be used to examine
hypotheses regarding potential impacts of climate variability on marine ecosystems.
- Improved knowledge of the impact of climate variability on marine ecosystems of the North
Pacific. Specifically, the program could elucidate mechanisms controlling marine populations
including commercially important fish species and provide quantitative information that would improve
the assessment, conservation and management of our nations valuable marine resources.
- Data sets will be assembled during the program that will provide the basis of future research
activities in the region.
- The program will advance our ability to make predictions on the future composition of
marine communities which could be utilized in simulation models to assess the impact of human
activities in the region.
- Studies of how physical forcing couples to the ecosystem will help scientists to anticipate
future ecosystem changes, no matter how the climate evolves. Short-term (seasonal) to long-term
(decadal) climate variations seem to impact the biological environment. The interdependence of these
climate fluctuations and the nature of the biological responses could serve as proxies for prediction of
some aspects of future long-term changes.