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Ocean climate indicators: A monitoring inventory and plan for tracking climate change in the north-central California coast and ocean region

January 1, 2014

The impacts of climate change, defined as increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide and associated increases in average global temperature and oceanic acidity, have been observed both globally and on regional scales, such as in the North-central California coast and ocean, a region that extends from Point Arena to Point Año Nuevo and includes the Pacific coastline of the San Francisco Bay Area. Because of the high economic and ecological value of the region’s marine environment, the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) and other agencies and organizations have recognized the need to evaluate and plan for climate change impacts.

Climate change indicators can be developed on global, regional, and site-specific spatial scales, and they provide information about the presence and potential impacts of climate change. While indicators exist for the nation and for the state of California as a whole, no system of ocean climate indicators exist that specifically consider the unique characteristics of the California coast and ocean region.

To that end, GFNMS collaborated with over 50 regional, federal, and state natural resource managers, research scientists, and other partners to develop a set of 2 ocean climate indicators specific to this region. A smaller working group of 13 regional partners developed monitoring goals, objectives, strategies, and activities for the indicators and recommended selected species for biological indicators, resulting in the Ocean Climate Indicators Monitoring Inventory and Plan. The working group considered current knowledge of ongoing monitoring, feasibility of monitoring, costs, and logistics in selecting monitoring activities and selected species.

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