Mapping Human Impacts

Spatial and Temporal Changes in the World's Ocean

Principal Investigator(s): 

Benjamin S. Halpern, Elizabeth R. Selig

Human activities on land and in the ocean have impacted marine natural habitats and species composition. Until recently, there were many unanswered questions about the condition of the world’s oceans. One of NCEAS’ most highly cited papers, "A Global Map of Human Impact on Marine Ecosystems" by Halpern et al. (Science, 2008), presented groundbreaking research to the ecological community, quantifying the impact humans have on marine ecosystems based on 17 human activities. This research mapped the location and intensity of human impacts and discovered that no part of the ocean remains unaltered from human actions.

NCEAS scientists have recently reexamined this issue and collected new data to update the current human impact scores and to understand the changes to the cumulative impact that humans are having on marine ecosystems during the study period (2008-2013). This new study, published July 14, 2015 in Nature Communications, allows for the analysis of how our impact on the ocean is changing over time and where these changes are taking place. This new knowledge can provide guidance on how to prioritize marine ecosystem management and conservation efforts across the globe.

Information about 2015 projectInformation about 2008 project