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Marine Ecosystems

The conservation and management of coastal and marine ecosystems and the living marine resources within them is a key component of NOAA’s mission. Commercial fish landings in the United States are valued at 4 billion dollars and over 1 million jobs are associated with commercial and marine recreational fishing. Coral reefs alone provide annual net tourism and recreational benefits of 483 million dollars to the U.S. economy . Globally, the estimated value of fisheries and coastal tourism exceeds 240 billion . Climate-driven variations in ocean conditions have profound effects on marine ecosystems. Projected ocean conditions under climate change, including increased ocean temperatures, stratification, and acidity, may have similarly large impacts. Quantitative, reliable prediction of climate-driven impacts on marine resources is essential for effective, ecosystem-based marine resource management.

GFDL Research

GFDL scientists are applying GFDL’s climate and earth system models to meet this challenge with predictions on time-scales from months to multiple decades on local to global spatial scales. Research is also focused on the development of increasing robust, comprehensive, high-resolution models to address limitations of the present generation of climate and earth system models. Reliably predicting climate impacts on marine ecosystems requires both skillful climate predictions and an understanding of the ways – or mechanisms – through which climate influences marine resources. These may be direct effects of changes in ocean conditions (for example, increasing temperature or acidity), shifts in seasonal timing that influence life cycles, or combinations of several effects that propagate through marine food webs. Unraveling these interactions is a complex, cross-disciplinary problem requiring models and data. Strong partnerships with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and diverse academic partners – including NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Climate Sciences with Princeton University – are leveraged to provide the breadth and depth of expertise required to address these problems.

Featured Results


  • Ross, A. C., C. A. Stock, K. W. Dixon, M. A. M. Friedrichs, R. R. Hood, M. Li, M., et al. (2020). Estuarine forecasts at daily weather to subseasonal time scales. Earth and Space Science, 7, e2020EA001179.
  • Jacox, M. G., D. Tommasi, M. A. Alexander, G. Hervieux, and C. A. Stock, 2019: Predicting the Evolution of the 2014-2016 California Current System Marine Heatwave from an Ensemble of Coupled Global Climate Forecasts. Front. Mar. Sci. DOI:10.3389/fmars.2019.00497
  • Park, J.-Y., C. A. Stock, J. P. Dunne, X. Yang, and A. Rosati, 2019: Seasonal to multiannual marine ecosystem prediction with a global Earth system model. Science, 365(6450), DOI:10.1126/science.aav6634
  • Ross, A. C., and C. A. Stock, 2019: An assessment of the predictability of column minimum dissolved oxygen concentrations in Chesapeake Bay using a machine learning model. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 221, DOI:10.1016/j.ecss.2019.03.007
  • Kristiansen, T, and Charles A Stock, et al., in press: Mechanistic insights into the effects of climate change on larval cod. Global Change Biology. DOI:10.1111/gcb.12489. 2/14.
  • Logan, C A., John P Dunne, C M Eakin, and S D Donner, January 2014: Incorporating adaptive responses into future projections of coral bleaching. Global Change Biology, 20(1), DOI:10.1111/gcb.12390.
  • Stock, Charles A., John P Dunne, and Jasmin John, January 2014: Global-scale carbon and energy flows through the marine food web: an analysis with a coupled physical-biological mode. Progress in Oceanography, 120, DOI:10.1016/j.pocean.2013.07.001.
  • Willis-Norton, E, and John P Dunne, et al., in press: Climate change impacts on leatherback turtle pelagic habitat in the southeast Pacific. Deep-Sea Research, Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.12.019. 1/14.
  • Beaulieu, C, S A Henson, Jorge L Sarmiento, and John P Dunne, et al., April 2013: Factors challenging our ability to detect long-term trends in ocean chlorophyll. Biogeosciences, 10(4), DOI:10.5194/bg-10-2711-2013.
  • Kearney, K, Charles A Stock, and Jorge L Sarmiento, October 2013: Amplification and attenuation of increased primary production in a marine food web. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 491(1-4), DOI:10.3354/meps10484.
  • Bopp, L, and John P Dunne, et al., October 2013: Multiple stressors of ocean ecosystems in the 21st century: projections with CMIP5 models. Biogeosciences, 10(10), DOI:10.5194/bg-10-6225-2013.
  • Hollowed, A B., E Curchitser, Charles A Stock, and C I Zhang, July 2013: Trade-offs associated with different modeling approaches for assessment of fish and shellfish responses to climate change. Climatic Change, 119(1), DOI:10.1007/s10584-012-0641-z.
  • Bianchi, D, E D Galbraith, D A Carozza, K A S Mislan, and Charles A Stock, July 2013: Intensification of open-ocean oxygen depletion by vertically migrating animals. Nature Geoscience, 6(7), DOI:doi:10.1038/ngeo1837.
  • Brody, S R., S Lozier, and John P Dunne, June 2013: A comparison of methods to determine phytoplankton bloom initiation. Journal of Geophysical Research, 118(5), DOI:10.1002/jgrc.20167.

More Marine Ecosystem Publications