March 5, 2010

Jellyfish: models of climate change adaptation

Jellyfish could be the poster child for climate change adaptation. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations cause oceans to warm up and their pH to drop. This affects vulnerable organisms such as coral reefs and plankton communities that either die or migrate but jellyfish can adapt to these new conditions and move in especially since overfishing and water pollution have been reducing the number of their predators. Reports from around the world, from Seattle to New York, from Spain to Ireland, show jellyfish expanding their range. An article in Nature published last summer showed they may even contribute to ocean mixing thus potentially stimulating carbon sequestration by pulling water along as they swim, stirring oceans of the same order as winds and tides. Both adapting and mitigating climate change. Marine scientist Jennifer Jacquet of the University of British Columbia in Canada and digital artist Dave Beck created a humorous illustration of what our future might look like and won a honorable mention in the International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge sponsored by NSF and the journal Science .

About the author:
Dominique Bachelet, Ph.D.
Senior Climate Change Scientist, Team Lead- Global Change
Dominique is a Senior Climate Change Scientist at CBI. She works extensively with a variety of climate scenarios to explore climate change impacts.
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