Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
Stellwagen Bank

mesophotic reefs
A great shearwater in Stellwagen Bank. Credit: NOAA

Why is it a concern?

Over the next century, climate change is projected to profoundly impact coastal and marine ecosystems. Climate change can have significant effects on sea level, temperature, and currents. These changes could result in more intense storms and more extreme floods and droughts. Rising seawater temperatures may give rise to increased algal blooms, major shifts in species distributions, local species extirpations, and increases in pathogens.

Researchers at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary are currently investigating the movements and feeding and foraging habits of Shearwater seabirds. These birds can act as indicators of ecosystem health and may responds to changes in their environment and food sources due to climate change. Food supply of shearwaters can be affected by changes in water temperature, currents, and other factors.

Overview of Research

Project Name PI and contacts Links

Foraging Ecology of Great Shearwaters

David Wiley

Impacts of OA on development of larval sand lance

David Wiley & Hannes Baumann

NO URL Available.


Science Needs and Questions

  • How will resources of the sanctuary be affected by climate change?
  • How would sea level change affect Sanctuary resources?
  • How will changes in ocean chemistry affect resources?
  • What results will global climate change have throughout biological communities?

Education and Outreach Material

Educational video on shearwater seabird tagging in the sanctuary.


Hatch, Joshua M., D. Wiley, K. T. Murray and L. Welch (2015) Integrating satellite-tagged seabird and fishery-dependent data: a case study of Great Shearwaters (Puffinus gravis) and the U.S. New England sink gillnet fishery. Conservation Letters: doi:10.1111/conl.12178.

Hofmann GE, Smith JE, Johnson KS, Send U, Levin LA, Micheli F, Paytan A, Price NN, Peterson B, Takeshita Y, Matson PG, Crook ED, Kroeker KJ, Gambi MC, Rivest EB, Frieder CA, Yu PC, Martz TR (2011) High-frequency dynamics of ocean pH: a multi-ecosystem comparison. PLoS ONE 6:e28983

Keeling RF, Körtzinger A, Gruber N (2010) Ocean deoxygenation in a warming world. Annu Rev Mar Sci 2:199-229

Levin LA, Breitburg DL (2015) Linking coasts and seas to address ocean deoxygenation. Nature Climate Change 5:401-403

Malvezzi A, Murray CS, Feldheim KA, Dibattista JD, Garant D, Gobler CJ, Chapman DD, Baumann H. (2015) A quantitative genetic approach to assess the evolutionary potential of a coastal marine fish to ocean acidification. Evol Appl 8:352-362

Melzner F, Thomsen J, Koeve W, Oschlies A, Gutowska M, Bange H, Hansen H, Körtzinger A (2012) Future ocean acidification will be amplified by hypoxia in coastal habitats. Mar Biol 160:1875- 1888

Murray CS, Malvezzi AJ, Gobler CJ, Baumann H (2014) Offspring sensitivity to ocean acidification changes seasonally in a coastal marine fish. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 504:1-11

Pfister CA, Esbaugh AJ, Frieder CA, Baumann H, Bockmon EE, White MM, Carter BR, Benway HM,

Blanchette CA, Carrington E, McClintock JB, McCorkle DC, McGillis WR, Mooney TA, Ziveri

P (2014) Detecting the unexpected: a research framework for ocean acidification. Environ Sci

Technol 48:9982-9994

Pörtner HO (2012) Integrating climate-related stressor effects on marine organisms: unifying principles linking molecule to ecosystem-level changes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 470:273-290

Pörtner HO, Langenbuch M, Michaelidis B (2005) Synergistic effects of temperature extremes, hypoxia, and increases in CO2 on marine animals: From Earth history to global change. J Geophys Res-Oceans 110:C09S10

Waldbusser GG, Salisbury JE (2014) Ocean acidification in the coastal zone from an organism's

perspective: multiple system parameters, frequency domains, and habitats. Annu Rev Mar Sci


National Marine Sanctuary Program. 2007. Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Condition Report 2007. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Sanctuary Program, Silver Spring, MD, 41 pp.