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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

Mapping and Data Integration


U.S. Geological Survey cruise tracklines for August 2008 and February 2009.
USGS cruise tracklines for August 2008 and February 2009. Data for pCO2 and other seawater chemistry measurements will be mapped, incorporated in a GIS database, and evaluated.

Lack of baseline data on carbonate saturation state and pCO2 fluxes on the west Florida shelf, a low-gradient calcium carbonate platform, constrains the ability of managers and scientists to predict aspects of ecosystem change. Ecosystem change may result from a number of factors, such as climate change, ocean acidification, riverine and groundwater contribution, and biogeochemical cycling. Maps and models of pCO2 fluxes and carbonate saturation state are needed for the Florida shelf where significant decline of carbonate ecosystems, fishery habitats, and calcifying organisms are predicted over the next decade.

Data are critically needed to refine models, to test hypotheses, and to create maps and predictive tools. This USGS project is mapping pCO2, CO2 air-sea changes, and regional sea surface carbonate (aragonite) saturation states of Florida coastal and inner shelf waters. These maps will be linked with sediment and habitat maps to provide fundamental information that is currently lacking for managers to document changes in organisms and ecosystems over the next decades.

The objective of the geodatabase is to establish a broad view of the shelf, seafloor and sub-bottom features; measures of roughness and homogeneity; submerged shoreline and river outlets; rock outcrops; depositional features; and correlation with biological communities.

As geophysical parameters change and biological resources are threatened, baseline geologic maps for the Florida coastal and shelf offshore are needed to provide the underpinning of habitat maps and resource assessment. Economic issues include sediment supply to coastal wetlands and shallow habitats, water quality, fisheries, and shellfish industry. The data, interpretative maps, and models produced from this project will provide managers with baseline information on geological and biological resources in coastal waters on the west Florida shelf.

Currently, existing data are either insufficient or have not been integrated in a manner to fully understand, monitor, and model shelf processes; their response to change; and the relation between habitat, productivity and ocean geochemistry on a shallow shelf. This task combines an evaluation of existing shelf-wide mapping data, an assessment of carbon chemistry and new field data, and improved modeling of modern processes in the face of climate change.

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