NNA Research: Collaborative Research: Rapid Arctic change and its Implications for Fisheries and Fishing Communities of the Western North Atlantic

Lead PI: Dr. Joaquim I Goes , Dr. Marco Tedesco , Helga do Rosario Gomes , Wable, Richard a; Brady, Damian C; Stoll, Joshua; Beitl, Christine; Mills, Katherine; Tokenage, Kanae; Dickes, Amanda C; Chassignet, Eric P; Stukel, Michale R; Xu, Xiaobiao; Zavala-Romero, Olmo S; Kiefer, Dale A

Unit Affiliation: Biology and Paleo Environment, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

January 2023 - December 2025
Europe ; Austria
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Navigating the New Arctic (NNA) is one of NSF's 10 Big Ideas. NNA projects address convergence scientific challenges in the rapidly changing Arctic. This Arctic research is needed to inform the economy, security and resilience of the Nation, the larger region and the globe. NNA empowers new research partnerships from local to international scales, diversifies the next generation of Arctic researchers, enhances efforts in formal and informal education, and integrates the co-production of knowledge where appropriate. This award fulfills part of that aim by addressing interactions among social systems and the natural environment in the following NNA focus areas: Data and Observation, Education, Forecasting, Global Impact, and Resilient Infrastructure. Rapid Arctic warming is altering circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean. Resulting changes in marine ecosystems could potentially undermine regional fisheries along the coasts of New England and Atlantic Canada. These changes will present new challenges and opportunities to coastal communities. This NNA Research project focuses on links between Arctic change and the iconic American lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery. The lobster fishery is the most valuable single-species fishery in North America. It is also a well-studied socio-ecological system, making it a good subject for convergence research. The project builds a NNA Lobster Network based on cross-sector and cross-border partnerships. The project develops a climate vulnerability assessment focused on the northward geographic range shifts of lobsters in a warming ocean. This project is producing new knowledge to understand the links among climate-induced Arctic change, lower latitude marine ecosystems, and an iconic fishery in the Northwest Atlantic. This collaborative project tests two overarching hypotheses: (1) climate-driven Arctic change will affect the distribution and abundance of American lobster stocks, and (2) the resilience of the fishing industry and coastal communities will depend on accurate information to make decisions. The natural environment is studied by oceanographers and ecologists developing a coupled atmosphere-ice-ocean-ecosystem model. This model evaluates how changes in the Arctic cryosphere and ocean circulation affect ecosystem and fishery productivity at the lower latitudes of the Northwest Atlantic. Model outputs are validated using existing field datasets, some of which are co-produced by the fishing industry. Improved predictive models resulting from this effort are used for forecasts and scenario analysis of lobster population distribution. Social systems are studied through development of a bio-economic model of the fishing fleet and evaluation of the economic reliance of the fishery. The NNA Lobster Network leads to a broadened understanding of physical, biological and socio-economic conditions at varying scales of interest under past and future climate and management scenarios.

BROADER IMPACTS: This Collaboratory features five core outcomes that address societal challenges limiting the ability of coastal communities to understand and respond to a changing environment associated with rapid Arctic warming: 1. End-to-end integration: We will integrate outcomes from research in the three elements of the NNA Program by conducting the first end-to-end, integrated analysis of the impacts of Arctic change on a marine socio-ecological system at a lower latitude; 2. Scenario analysis & forecasting: Our research will evaluate the impact of future environmental scenarios on the lobster fishery and coastal communities, the efficacy of specific management and adaptation strategies, and the relative ability of these communities and governance systems to adapt to change at different space-time scales; (3) Accessible decision support: The widened access to a powerful data visualization and decision support system through a user-friendly dashboard, will enable stakeholders to better plan for a range of climate scenarios; 4. Strengthened collaborations: Our project will strengthen long-standing transdisciplinary collaborations between US and Canadian researchers by capitalizing on parallel, but independent, convergence research initiatives whose joint activities will be coordinated by the newly formed US-Canada Climate and Fisheries Futures Collaborative; and 5. Education: The project provides educational and early career training opportunities for 12 undergraduates, five graduate students and five postdoctoral associates, creating a cohort of scholars trained in convergence research and ethos.


National Science Foundation




University of Maine, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Florida State University, System Science Application Inc.