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Atlas of Climatic Changes in Large Marine Ecosystems of the Northern Hemisphere (1878-2013)


Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) are regions of ocean space of 200,000 km2 or greater that encompass coastal waters from river basins and estuaries seaward to the break or slope of the continental shelf, or the leading ocean frontal boundary of principal coastal currents. LMEs are defined by ecological criteria including bathymetry, hydrography, marine productivity, and trophically linked populations. LMEs annually produce 80 percent of the Worlds marine fish catch. They are at present under stress from overfishing, pollution, nutrient over-enrichment, acidification, climate change, and loss of biodiversity and important habitat areas. These stressors are impacting sustainable development of an estimated 12 trillion dollars in goods and services contributed annually by LMEs to the global economy.

Since the mid-1990s, LMEs have been designated by a growing number of coastal countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe as place-based assessment and management areas for introducing an ecosystem-based approach to recover, develop, and sustain marine resources. The LME approach to the assessment and management of marine resources is based on the operationalization of five modules, with suites of indicators for monitoring and assessing changing conditions in ecosystem productivity, fish and fisheries, pollution and ecosystem health, socioeconomics, and governance. The approach is part of an emerging effort by the scientific community to relate the scale of place-based ecosystem assessment and management of marine resources to policy making, and to tighten the linkages among basic science and applied science, and the management of ocean resources within the natural boundaries of LMEs.

During the present period of climate change and the variable responses of marine populations from marine plankton to fish, marine mammals and sea birds to the effects of accelerated warming reported in the worlds LMEs, scientists of Russian Academy of Sciences Southern Scientific Center, Institute of Arctic Zones (SSC-RAS) and the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute (KSC-RAS) have joined with scientists of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations, National Oceanographic Data Center and National Marine Fisheries Service in providing an extraordinary atlas of key biological and physical time series data spanning 135 years from 1878 to 2013.

The Atlas provides an exceptional long record of biological and physical time-series data and indices extracted from archival sources in Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. Included in the Atlas are time-series for the eastern Arctic Seas LMEs, including the Barents Sea LME (and the White Sea subarea), Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, Chukchi Sea, and the West Bering Sea and East Bering Sea LMEs. Included also are time-series for the Black Sea (and the Sea of Azov subarea) and the Caspian Sea LMEs.

Given the climate changes occurring throughout the northern hemisphere, the Atlas of Climate Change in Large Marine Ecosystems of the Northern Hemisphere (1878-2013) should prove to be most welcome and timely to those natural and social scientists and marine resources managers supporting the global movement toward sustainable development of the Worlds LMEs.

Kenneth Sherman, Director
NOAAs Large Marine Ecosystem Program
Northeast Fisheries Science Center,
Narragansett Laboratory,
Narragansett, Rhode Island, USA

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