Climate and Ecosystems Science

Understanding climate change impacts on living marine resource distribution and occurrence patterns is a High Priority for NOAA Fisheries. We know very little about the effects of global and regional climate dynamics on marine mammal distribution, abundance, and marine mammal prey availability. 

The Arctic in particular, is a window to changing climate patterns and a suitable biological laboratory to observe and record impacts of receding sea ice, warming sea surface temperatures, and variable energy flow affecting key marine ecosystem functions and native tribal communities dependent on Arctic resources for their livelihood and sustenance. To this end, Protected Species Program staff in collaboration with various partners is involved in the development of a  Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) to monitor ecosystem change in the Pacific Arctic and links the physical ocean observations to marine mammal biology

Presentation: Developing a Distributed Biological Observatory

Climate Vulnerability Assessments

NOAA Fisheries is conducting a project to assess the vulnerability of marine mammals and sea turtles in a changing climate. This joint effort between NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology, Office of Protected Resources, Regional Offices, and Science Centers will help to identify:
  • Those species that are most vulnerable to climate change
  • Which aspects of their life history contribute most to their vulnerability
  • Which climate change factors contribute most to their vulnerability
Development and testing of the approach is currently underway with the first implementation of the assessment is planned for marine mammals in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean.
Vulnerability assessment process
Vulnerability traits


Ocean Acoustics

Climate & Ecosystems