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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Rapid Climate-Driven Circulation Changes Threaten Conservation of Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

Authors:

Nicholas Record

Jeffrey Runge

Daniel Pendleton

William Balch

Kimberley Davies

Andrew Pershing

Catherine Johnson

Karen Stamieszkin

Rubao Ji

Zhixuan Feng

Scott Kraus

Robert Kenney

Christy Hudak

Charles Mayo

Changsheng Chen

Joseph Salisbury

Cameron Thompson

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
2019
Secondary Title:
Oceanography
ISSN:
10428275
DOI:
10.5670/oceanog.2019.201
Volume:
32
Year:
2019
Date:
Jan-06-2019
URL:
https://tos.org/oceanography/article/rapid-climate-driven-circulation-changes-threaten-conservation-of-endangere

Abstract

As climate trends accelerate, ecosystems will be pushed rapidly into new states, reducing the potential efficacy of conservation strategies based on historical patterns. In the Gulf of Maine, climate-driven changes have restructured the ecosystem rapidly over the past decade. Changes in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation have altered deepwater dynamics, driving warming rates twice as high as the fastest surface rates. This has had implications for the copepod Calanus finmarchicus, a critical food supply for the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The oceanographic changes have driven a deviation in the seasonal foraging patterns of E. glacialis upon which conservation strategies depend, making the whales more vulnerable to ship strikes and gear entanglements. The effects of rapid climate-driven changes on a species at risk undermine current management approaches.