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NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-AFSC-376

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Climate science regional action plan for the Gulf of Alaska

Executive Summary

Large changes in climate are expected in the U.S. Gulf of Alaska (GOA) in the coming decades.Projected changes include warming of ocean waters, decreases in ocean pH, sea level rise, changes in ocean circulation and stratification, and potential concomitant changes in species distributions, ecosystem productivity, and food-web structure. While the nature of physical changes is clear, such as warming and ocean acidification, ecosystem responses to changing physical conditions are uncertain because it is unknown which of several forcing factors will be dominant. Directed research is needed to assess the degree of climate-driven change to critical ecosystem components, evaluate potential effects on marine species, and to determine risks to the ecosystem and fishing communities. This research will guide policies to reduce climate impacts, to manage human involvement in changed ecosystems, and to capitalize on any novel opportunities that may arise for marine resource-dependent human communities. This Regional Action Plan (RAP) outlines a framework to initiate this process.




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