Ocean Climate Indicators: A Monitoring Inventory and Plan for Tracking Climate Change in the North-central California Coast and Ocean Region


Duncan, B.E., K.D. Higgason, T.H. Suchanek, J. Largier, J. Stachowicz, S. Allen, S. Bograd, R. Breen, H. Gellerman, T. Hill, J. Jahncke, R. Johnson, S. Lonhart, S. Morgan, J. Roletto, F. Wilkerson.

The impacts of climate change have been observed both globally and on regional scales, such as in the North-central California coast and ocean, a region that extends from Point Arena to Point Año Nuevo and includes the Pacific coastline of the San Francisco Bay Area. Because of the high economic and ecological value of the region's marine environment, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) and other agencies and organizations have recognized the need to evaluate and plan for climate change impacts.

Climate change indicators provide information about the presence and potential impacts of climate change. While climate change indicators exist for the nation and for the state of California as a whole, no system of ocean climate indicators exist that specifically consider the unique characteristics of the North-central California coast and ocean region. To that end, GFNMS collaborated with over 50 federal, state, and regional natural resource managers, research scientists, and other partners to develop a set of eight physical and four biological ocean climate indicators specific to this region.

A smaller working group of regional experts developed overarching indicator monitoring recommendations, and specific metrics and monitoring goals, objectives, strategies, and activities for each of the twelve ocean climate indicators. Broadly speaking, these strategies are centered on maintaining existing indicator monitoring, and expanding or establishing new monitoring in critical habitats. To maximize the utility of these indicators for decision-makers, priority levels, current and potential future partners, funding requirements, and implementation timelines are provided for each indicator monitoring strategy.

Key Words:

Climate change, ocean climate, indicator, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, GFNMS, climate impact, fishes, seabirds, sensitive species, primary productivity, sea level, sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, dissolved oxygen, salinity, air temperature