Coastal Gulf of Alaska Futures

Analysis of Past Dynamics to Improve Prediction of Future Response to Natural and Anthropogenic Change

Principal Investigator(s): 

Thomas A. Okey, Terrie Klinger, James J. Ruzicka, and Amber Himes

How will the structure, the productivity, and the dynamics of the coastal Gulf of Alaska socioecosystem and ecological systems responded to anticipated changes in environmental conditions and human disturbances within coastal waters? In a complex ecosystem, accurately predicting the responses and social consequences to the broad swath of potential future conditions is a daunting task. The ability to predict large-scale ecosystem behavior can be improved by identifying mid-trophic-level groups that act as critical energy transfer nodes between the plankton and upper trophic-level groups and by studying the dynamics of these groups in the face of past environmental variability. This Working Group will take an integrated two-pronged approach to examining the past 25-years of data from the Gulf of Alaska for insights into the present state and future changes in the region, both anthropogenic and natural. Statistical analysis of observed states and changes among physical and biological ecosystem components will highlight sensitivities to changes in the physical environment across trophic levels. Model analyses will characterize sensitivities to environmental variability and estimate the effects of future oceanographic changes and management and policies on both ecological and human dimensions. Experts in social-ecological systems will guide research and activities towards the examination of the consequences of ecosystem change to human needs and activities.

The Gulf Watch Alaska project is funded by Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC) and state and federal agencies.

More information for project participants