$510K to Assess Future Climate Impacts on Hawai‘i Fisheries


$510K to Assess Future Climate Impacts on Hawai‘i Fisheries

The PacIOOS Ocean Modeling Group was awarded $510K in grant funding by NOAA’s Climate Program Office to better understand climate impacts on pelagic and coastal fisheries in Hawaiʻi. A suite of projections will be developed to predict future changes through the end of the century in order to inform adaptive management strategies in the Pacific Islands region. Modeling results will be made available through PacIOOS.

Based in the southern portion of the subtropical gyre, the marine ecosystems of Hawaiʻi are impacted by waters from the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre as well as the western Pacific—creating a distinct regime for ocean life to thrive. Climate change will alter planetary circulation, resulting in potentially longer and more intense marine heat waves in the Pacific and potentially stronger El Niño impacts. What does that mean for the physical and biogeochemical ocean environment in Hawaiʻi? And how do those changes affect fish populations and the ecosystems they live in, both spatially and in time?

Modeling regional and island-scale changes

Combining state-of-the-art global, regional, and island-scale numerical models, the project team strives to identify and predict the mechanisms on how the large-scale climate will influence Hawaiʻi’s ocean environment and associated impacts to fisheries. “We will utilize global climate ensemble projections and downscale them to physical and biogeochemistry models specifically for Hawaiʻi. We have validated our model runs with over 50 million observations over the past 10 years, allowing us to train and fine-tune the model”, says project-lead Professor Brian Powell, Department of Oceanography in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Dr. Malte Stuecker, Assistant Professor in the Department of Oceanography, and PacIOOS Research Scientist Dr. Tobias Friedrich will implement the modeling efforts.

Fisheries are critical for Hawaiʻi

In close collaboration with NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC), Ecosystem Sciences Division, the environmental models will be coupled with a NOAA size-based food web model and an ecosystem model to project climate-related effects on both pelagic fisheries and near-shore organisms. “Fisheries throughout the U.S. will be impacted by climate change in different ways. Long-line pelagic and coastal reef fisheries are socially, culturally, and economically important for Hawaiʻi, and we are eager to investigate the potential responses of these fisheries so that we can better plan for the future”, says Ryan Rykaczewski, a Research Marine Scientist and leader of the Pelagic Research Program at NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center. In 2016, the economic impact of fisheries in Hawaiʻi was over $861M with 9,900 jobs form the longline pelagic fisheries to the coastal coral reef-based fisheries and marine protected areas.

Funding Support

The funding for this 3-year project is provided by the Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections (MAPP) Program, based within NOAA’s Climate Program Office. The MAPP Program is a competitive research program within NOAA Research’s Climate Program Office. MAPP’s mission is to enhance the Nation’s and NOAA’s capability to understand, predict, and project variability and long-term changes in Earth’s system and mitigate human and economic impacts. To achieve its mission, MAPP supports foundational research, transition of research to applications, and engagement across other parts of NOAA, among partner agencies, and with the external research community. MAPP plays a crucial role in enabling national preparedness for extreme events like drought and longer-term climate changes.

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Did you know?

PacIOOS is the first regional association that was certified as a Regional Information Coordination Entity (RICE) by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Certification provides NOAA and its interagency partners a means to verify that a regional association’s organizational and operational practices, including data management, meet recognized and established standards set by NOAA.