Week Four: Celebrations and Sea Surface Temperature!

I am no longer writing for this blog as a teenager! My twentieth birthday was Saturday and my family and best-friend came down to Newport for the weekend! We walked around Hatfield, we walked along the Bay front, visited the beach, did a little hiking, and celebrated my birthday at the Noodle café. The weekend was like home at the beach!




This week at work I was researching predicted sea-surface temperatures in 2100 for each ecoregion. I also had to find values for each of International Panel on Climate Change’s Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). These are emission scenarios that could occur over the course of the century depending on emission restrictions and other climate change initiatives that we pursue. The four scenarios are 2.6, 4.5, 6.0, and 8.5—named after the range of possible radiative forcings in 2100. As I am finding four projections for each of the twelve ecoregions, I have to find 48 values. However, the literature does not have all of those numbers and I am waiting until this week to talk to one of mentors, Henry, to get his opinion on what the course of action should be as he was out of town most of this past week.

Nonetheless, what I have found has been worrisome. All of the values I have found project at least a 1˚C increase by the end of the century with some scenarios predicting up to a 5˚C increase. In order to determine organisms’ relative vulnerability to an increase in sea surface temperature, Henry is developing a table of thermal cutpoints for each ecoregion based on current mean sea surface temperature data and the projected sea surface temperature values. None, low, moderate, and high risk of temperature increase for the species will be determined through the species’ thermal tolerance which is indicative of their current biogeographical distribution. Henry developed a complicated series of rules that I don’t completely understand and don’t think I can properly explain quite yet.

In addition to researching sea surface temperature, the other intern working in my office, Christina (my other mentor), and I were all supposed to get field work training on a boat last Friday; however, the intern was sick and we postponed the trip until next week. Since I was waiting for Henry to return, I didn’t have much research to do. Instead, I helped Christina write an abstract for a climate conference that she will attend in November. She will be presenting a poster on CBRAT and how it is incorporating climate change impacts and specific values to assess species’ vulnerability. She has presented at this conference before, but this will be the first time she is able to report on the climate side of CBRAT which will surely please the climatologists at the conference—many of whom have published studies that I have obtained values from.

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7 thoughts on “Week Four: Celebrations and Sea Surface Temperature!

  1. Happy birthday! Sounds like a great weekend.
    Writing abstracts is hard- it’s good to get practice with them. Is there a chance you could go to the conference as well? It would be a great professional experience for you.

  2. Glad to hear you will be headed out into the field soon for a change of scenery. Sounds like you are getting a good handle on the realities of climate change effects, as well as what working as part of a team entails. Can you explain a bit more about radiative forcings? I’m not familiar with this metric.

  3. Hi Micaela! I’m new at Sea Grant and have enjoyed reading about your summer experience. Great description of the process you’ve been taking to determine species’ thermal tolerance. I’m not familiar with the literature, but how would a seemingly small change in temperature (1-5C) affect marine species?

  4. No unfortunately, the conference is in November in Idaho and I will be at school then.

  5. I’m not doing a whole lot on that actually, it’s the variable that the IPCC uses to define an emission scenario, but what I understand from it is that radiative forcings are the change in energy due to greenhouse gasses.

  6. We’re using the species’ thermal tolerances and biogeographical distribution to determine that. So if a species lives in Oregon where the temperature is 14 degrees celsius, an increase in 1.5 degrees would push the species northward to The North American Pacific Fjordland where the same increase in sea surface temperature would still be tolerable since the original sea surface temperature is colder, say 12 degrees. The species in Oregon will have a high risk, because they have to devote more energy to thermoregulation rather than growth and reproduction. I hope that answers your question!

  7. That’s so interesting Micaela, thanks for sharing! Are you also looking into the species’ dispersion capabalities, i.e. if they will be able to follow a comfortable temperature range as it moves northward?

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