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Climate Change Impacts: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries

Report of a Joint Working Group of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Advisory Councils


John Largier1 Brian Cheng1 Kelley Higgason 2 1Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis 2Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

"Climate Change Impacts: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries" was released to the public at California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco on June 3, 2010. The report, authored by a working group of the Farallones and Cordell Bank marine sanctuary advisory councils, provides a foundation of information for each sanctuary to develop climate change action plans. It was the outcome of a year and a half of collaboration among local experts representing 16 agencies, organizations, and academic institutions. Existing observations and science-based expectations were used to identify an extensive suite of potential climate change impacts to habitats, plants, and animals within North-central California's unique ocean and coastal zones.

Key issues identified include: Observed increase in sea level (100 year record at mouth of San Francisco Bay); expected increase in coastal erosion associated with changes in sea level and storm waves; observed decrease in spring runoff of freshwater through San Francisco Bay; observed increase in precipitation variability (drier dry years, wetter wet years); observed increase in surface ocean temperature offshore of the continental shelf; observed increase in winds driving coastal upwelling of nutrient-rich waters and associated observed decrease in surface ocean temperature over the continental shelf; observed increase in extreme weather events (winds, waves, storms); expected decrease in seawater pH, due to uptake of carbon dioxide by the ocean; observed northward shift of key species (including Humboldt squid, volcano barnacle, gray whales, bottlenose dolphins); possible shift in dominant phytoplankton (from diatom to dinoflagellate blooms); and the potential for effects of climate change to be compounded by parallel environmental changes associated with local human activities.