Addressing uncertainty in projecting climate change impacts in marine ecosystems

The convenors would like to announce that abstract submission is open for a workshop entitled Addressing uncertainty in projecting climate change impacts in marine ecosystems, to be held 3rd International Symposium on the Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans, Santos (Brazil)

Manuel Barange (Plymouth Marine Labs, UK)
William Cheung (University of British Columbia, Canada)
Brian MacKenzie (Technical University of Denmark, Denmark)
Mark R. Payne (Technical University of Denmark, Denmark)

Addressing uncertainty in projecting climate change impacts in marine ecosystems

Accurate projections of the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems are a key prerequisite for the planning of adaptation strategies. However, the biological sciences, and their associated social and economic components, trail behind their physical counterparts in terms of the robustness, reliability and accuracy of their projections. In this workshop we propose to advance the current state of the art about how such projections can be made, and, to answer the question, “how confident are we of the robustness and usefulness of projections to inform climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in the context of ecosystem-based management of marine resources?”

We encourage contributions from the scientific community addressing uncertainties in future fisheries and seafood production under climate change, with productivity, abundance, food-web structure and distribution of marine populations, species and communities as potential case studies. We also welcome contributions from other disciplines, particularly the physical and social sciences, including economics, that describe how uncertainty is acknowledged and handled, and what makes robust projections/predictions in these fields.

The primary output from the workshop will be a focused review paper synthesising the lessons learned from the workshop. We will synthesise the most promising of these approaches in the context of uncertainty and risk assessment to both assess the quality of impact projections, and improve confidence in predictions. Finally, we will highlight gaps in existing knowledge and identify future research needs to improve the projections of climate change impacts in marine systems.

The workshop will address the various types of uncertainties common in modelling (see below). Plenary talks are invited to, in the first instance, introduce these aspects and the associated key questions to a general audience. They will then be followed by focused discussions in subgroups centred on each of the uncertainty elements. A final, brief, summary session will pull the threads back together.

We ask that potential presenters shape their contribution in relation to the fundamental uncertainty inherent in all modelling tasks and their consequences for projecting climate change impacts. A suggested classification of uncertainty types is included in the following table: we encourage presenters to address at least one of these themes, although other related themes are also welcome. We urge presenters to include specific descriptions of the uncertainties they intend to address in their presentation, when they submit their abstracts. These themes will also form the basis for the discussion groups: all participants in the workshop are encouraged to come with their own ideas and opinions to contribute.

Uncertainty type



Internal variability

Variability of natural physical and ecological processes

ENSO, predator-prey dynamics,
Nonstationarity in stock-recruitment relationships


Specific parameter values used in the models

Diet composition, dispersal rate


Differences in the degree of abstraction and model architecture, design and assumptions

Sized-based approach, functional-group based approach, species-based approach


Uncertainty in the initial state of the system

Sub-decadal GCM predictions, weather forecasts


Differences in the natural and/or anthropogenic forcing driving the model

Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP), Changes in fishing patterns

Published Oct. 27, 2014 9:43 AM - Last modified Oct. 27, 2014 9:43 AM