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St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center

St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Florida Shelf Ecosystems

Response of Florida Shelf Ecosystems to Climate Change

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How are economically significant resources such as fish, shellfish, and sediment-producing organisms and their habitats responding to climate change and resulting shifts in ocean conditions, such as temperature increases and ocean acidification? This question, and other similar and important topics, are being addressed in the USGS project “Response of Florida shelf ecosystems to climate change”. This project involves fieldwork, laboratory experiments, historical data, and satellite image analyses to address how the shelf environment and associated organisms will respond to climate change.

Fieldwork focuses on collecting and examining baseline carbon and carbonate chemistry data (including carbonate saturation state) and the fundamental process of marine biogenic calcification in nearshore waters of the Florida Shelf and Florida Keys. These data are used in conjunction with satellite data to provide a synoptic view of how the shelf is responding yearly and seasonally. Fieldwork on the west Florida shelf combined with historic data will provide insights on the transition between photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic bottom dwelling organisms (plants and animals) that produce carbonate sediments and the oceanographic conditions associated with both. Laboratory experiments involving different calcifying organisms are used to address how pH and carbonate saturation state changes affect processes involved in calcification. Historic data from different coastal localities and estuaries are analyzed to document how oceanographic conditions have changed over the last 50 or more years, in order to predict future trends.


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