The overall goal of this project was to assess the potential risk of ocean acidification on marine resources within the state of Alaska, using the best available and most recent chemical, biological and socio-economic data.
As a first step, data sets containing information about per capita income, poverty, unemployment, educational attainment, job resiliency and food cost were gathered to comprise a social resiliency index for each borough in Alaska. Combined with information about commercial fisheries harvest value, subsistence fisheries harvest quantity and population size, the gathered information illustrates the dependency of each Borough on a healthy marine ecosystem.
Results show that southeastern Boroughs and Boroughs around Fairbanks and Anchorage are more resilient towards a collapse in important industrial sectors as their financial resources, educational attainment and job diversity allow for a potential shift to alternative industries, whereas other boroughs do not have as many resources to rely on. Also, these less resilient areas, such as Wade Hampton or Bethel, are highly dependent on subsistence fisheries and could therefore be greatly affected by an ocean acidification induced decrease in fish harvest. Boroughs like Kodiak Island are greatly dependent on the commercial fisheries revenue, however have a moderate resiliency and are more likely to be able to rely on other resources.
To combine this socio-economic data with our current knowledge about ocean acidification, we are now working on using a risk and vulnerability framework based on the IPCC SREX (2012), to relate multiple oceanographic variables to marine resources and to Alaskans’ dependence on fisheries and marine ecosystem resources, while also considering characteristics of the human community. Oceanographic variables under consideration describe changes in ocean carbonate chemistry; susceptibility of organisms, based on their predicted direct or indirect response to OA; and complementary indices of social and economic dependence on fishing revenue and nutrition. We develop an overall index assessing the risk from OA for Alaska that incorporates all of these data. This preliminary assessment creates the foundation for future research needs and efforts for a large-scale, multi-disciplinary issue with potential consequences for Alaska’s marine ecosystems, people and economy.
J.T. Mathis, S.R. Cooley, N. Lucey and C. Hauri. Ocean Acidification Risk Assessment for Alaska’s Fishery Sector. In preparation for Continental Shelf Research.
IPCC, 2012: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V. Barros, T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, D.J. Dokken, K.L. Ebi, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, G.-K. Plattner, S.K. Allen, M. Tignor, and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, 582 pp.