Climate Change

Survivors of Climate Driven Abalone Mass Mortality Exhibit Declines in Health and Reproduction Following Kelp Forest Collapse

Marine ecosystems are vulnerable to climate driven events such as marine heatwaves yet we have a poor understanding of whether they will collapse or recover. Kelp forests are known to be susceptible, and there has been a rise in sea urchin barrens around the world. When temperatures increase so do physiological demands while food resources decline, tightening metabolic constraints. In this case study, we examine red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) looking at sublethal impacts and their prospects for recovery within kelp forests that have shifted to sea urchin barrens.

Geographical and environmental impacts on symbiotic relationships between anemone and algae

Corals and anemones form a symbiotic partnership with photosynthetic algae based on an exchange of nutrients: the host receives sugar from the algae, the algae receives nutrients and consistent exposure to sunlight from the host. This relationship can break down under stressful conditions, a phenomenon known as 'bleaching,' which, in the case of tropical corals, can quickly lead to the death of the host. Bleaching resistance can arise if a local population consistently encounters and adapts to warmer conditions.

Long Term Impacts of Marine Heatwave on Kelp Forests

A new study led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz, with coauthors from UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Davis, documents the collapse of kelp forest ecosystems off the coast of Northern California. Analyzing the contributing events, from warming oceans to the loss of sunflower sea stars, researchers used satellite imagery from over 30 years to assess historical changes and better understand the dynamics and resilience of kelp forests.

Read the study in Communications Biology

Episode 6 of UC Davis' Unfold Podcast takes a deep dive into oceans and a changing climate

Oceans have always done us a favor, absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But now rising greenhouse gases are warming the ocean and changing its chemistry. All of this is putting marine species and ecosystems at risk, threatening food security and the livelihoods of people along its shores. In this episode of Unfold, we’ll take a deep dive into the ocean to examine the effects of climate change.

In this episode:

For Red Abalone, Resisting Ocean Acidification Starts With Mom

Red abalone mothers from California’s North Coast give their offspring an energy boost when they’re born that helps them better withstand ocean acidification compared to their captive, farmed counterparts, according to a study from the Bodega Marine Laboratory at the University of California, Davis.

Earth Day Interview with Kiva Oken

Earth Day began in 1970 as a movement for transformative environmental change, and Earth Day's mission and momentum has only grown since. This year, the chosen theme is climate change - a subject that influences and impacts the Marine and Coastal Sciences greatly. As part of our continued efforts to advance our understanding of coastal and ocean systems and improve the sustainability of those systems and the communities that rely on them, we did a virtual interview with one of our Assistant Professors, Kiva Oken, who is giving us a focus on fisheries, plus some information about how they're being affected by climate change and COVID-19.

Rising Tides, Troubled Waters: The Future of Our Ocean

The blob went unnoticed at first. In the summer of 2013, a high-pressure ridge settled over a Texas-size area in the northern Pacific, pushing the sky down over the ocean like an invisible lid. The winds died down, and the water became weirdly calm. Without waves and wind to break up the surface and dissipate heat, warmth from the sun accumulated in the water, eventually raising the temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit — a huge spike for the ocean.

How Giant Kelp May Respond to Climate Change

In a Changing Ocean, Giant Kelp’s Reproductive Success Depends on Where It’s From

When a marine heat wave hit California’s coast in 2014, it brought ocean temperatures that were high for Northern California but fairly normal for a Southern California summer. Much of the giant kelp in the north died in the heat wave, while southern populations survived.

UC Davis News

The Paleo Climate of California

Corals are a recent addition to this body of prophecy. Scientists now know that deep-sea corals off the coast of California live for hundreds of years—and they record a ring for every year of their growth, just like a redwood. What their growth rings tell us about past ocean conditions can also illuminate our planet's future. 

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