Published 05.12.2019 - Updated 05.12.2019

Global carbon budget 2019

The 2019 “global carbon budget” was published on 4 December. It provides an assessment of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and their distribution in the atmosphere, ocean, and land. This is important to better understand the global carbon cycle, support the development of climate policies, and project future climate change. It shows that emissions are still increasing, but have slowed due to the global decrease in coal burning. Continued and increased global action is needed to reverse the trends.

Global carbon budget 2019 by Pierre Friedlingstein et al. is licensed under CC BY 4.0

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Published 26.11.2019 - Updated 26.11.2019

ESSAS 2020 Annual Science Meeting in Japan from 1-3 June

IMBeR´s ESSAS Regional Programme will hold its 2020 Annual Science Meeting at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan from 1–3 June 2020

ESSAS´s goal is to compare, quantify and predict the impact of climate variability on the productivity and sustainability of Subarctic and Arctic marine ecosystems. The theme of the 2020 meeting is Linking past and present marine ecosystems to inform future fisheries and aquaculture. This builds on a Belmont Forum-funded project that examined the resilience and adaptive capacity of Arctic and Subarctic marine systems, and aims to gain greater understanding of the mechanisms by which climate change will affect aquaculture and capture fisheries, how these changes will affect resource-dependent communities, and how management can foster resilience in these systems.

Registration and abstract submission are now open. We invite you to submit abstracts that address these themes to help inform our understanding of future changes affecting fisheries and aquaculture in high-latitude marine ecosystems. We welcome contributions from different marine science fields, including paleoecology, contemporary ecology and the social sciences. In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, presentations can be delivered via a video conference system if you cannot atttend the meeting.

If you would like to join the optional excursion to the UPOPOY National Ainu Museum and Park on 5 June, please sign up for it when you register.

Deadline for abstract submission: 31 January, 2020

Deadline for online registration: 30 April 2020

Registration fee: Students: 2,500 JPY, Others: 5,000 JPY

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Published 12.11.2019 - Updated 12.11.2019

The smallest phytoplankton may be bigger than we first thought

The ability of flow cytometry to sort hundreds of thousands of phytoplankton cells in minutes has been used in marine science for over 30 years. However, the differentiation of these cells into different types and then further into size distributions and optical properties still requires the manual interpretation of skilled analysts.

We have developed and implemented an automated scheme on the large Atlantic Meridional Transect flow cytometric database consisting of around 104 samples and 109 cells. This unique, well-calibrated dataset covers 100° of latitude between the UK and the Falklands, and has multiple samples between the surface and 200m. The results clearly show that Prochlorococcus, which are very small marine cyanobacteria, are consistently larger (>0.65 µm) than previously thought and have a distinctive double peak (0.75 µm and 1.75 µm) in their size distribution, which varies strongly with depth. This is coupled with changes in their optical properties: a term we have coined as “opto-types”. Synechococcus by contrast are strongly monodispersed and are typically 1.5 µm in diameter.

This work has uncovered new information regarding the size distribution of the smallest phytoplankton and has implications for how energy is transferred between different biological organisms.

Tim Smyth, Glen Tarran and Shubha Sathyendranath from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK


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Published 18.10.2019 - Updated 18.10.2019

Congratulations from IMBeR to Jess Melbourne-Thomas!

Jess Melbourne-Thomas was recently named as the Australian of the Year by her home state of Tasmania.

Jess is an ecosystem modeller and much of her research focused on how underwater ecosystems respond to climate change and other human impacts. In her current position at CSIRO, she is working on bridging the science-policy-society divide, and how best to communicate and engage regarding change and management for marine social-ecological systems.

Jess´s passion for the ocean and her desire to help women in science led her to co-found the Homeward Bound project, that took 78 female scientists to Antarctica in 2016. She also co-founded the Women in Polar Science network, which has well over 4000 members worldwide.

IMBeR has been very lucky to have Jess involved in its Integrated Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Southern Ocean (ICED) regional programme in various capacities.

Amazing work! Well done, Jess. This is a very well-deserved accolade!

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Published 03.10.2019 - Updated 03.10.2019

IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just published its Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC; published 25 Sept 2019). The SROCC further illustrates the urgent need to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting and restoring ecosystems, and carefully managing the use of natural resources, concluding that “choices made now are critical for the future of our ocean and cryosphere” and also for people.

Several of the SROCC authors have been heavily engaged in IMBeR –

Javier Arístegui 1,4, Jean-Pierre Gattuso 1,3, Niki Gruber 1,3, Nianzhi Jiao 4, Lisa Levin 3, Jess Melbourne-Thomas 2,4, Geir Ottersen5 and Carol Turley 1,3 (in alphabetical order)

have served or are currently serving as –

1IMBeR SSC members, 2 IMBeR Regional Programme SSC members or leaders of Regional Programme task teams, 3IMBeR Working Group SSC members,  4conveners of workshops at an IMBeR IMBIZO, 5 leader of an IMBeR-endorsed project 

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Published 02.09.2019 - Updated 02.09.2019

Perceptions of system-identity and regime shift for marine ecosystems

Management of marine ecosystems often seeks to maintain systems in stable states that are close to their historical pristine state, or a state where pressures and resource extraction does not degrade the system beyond a point of no return. When regime shifts occur these can therefore considered to be failures in management. Regime shifts should be recognisable as the system departs from the status quo or away from a desirable state and transgresses over some definitive reference points. However, Ingrid van Putten* and colleagues from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and the University of Tasmania found that there is limited consensus among marine scientists as to what actually constitutes a regime shift. Thus, the authors identified a fundamental ambiguity in a key concept for ecosystem based management.

See full paper:

Ingrid van Putten*, Fabio Boschetti, Scott Ling, and Shane A. Richards (2019) Perceptions of system-identity and regime shift for marine ecosystems. ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsz058 

The idea for this research was first conceptualized at the marine regime shift workshop at the fourth IMBeR IMBIZO meeting: Marine and human systems: Addressing multiple scales and multiple stressors, hosted by the Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia and Geofisica Sperimentale in Trieste, Italy, October 2015. 

*Ingrid van Putten is Chair of the IMBeR Human Dimensions Working Group.


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Published 27.08.2019 - Updated 27.08.2019

Drivers of abundance and biomass of Brazilian parrotfishes

The long Brazilian coast encompasses most of the reef environments of the southwestern Atlantic, and are characterized by unique reef formations and high rates of endemism. Parrotfishes (Labridae: Scarinae) are among the most ubiquitous and dominant reef fish worldwide, and in Brazil, 60% of the group are comprised of six endemic species. It is known that parrotfishes can affect the physical structure and composition of benthic communities through grazing and bioerosion. Despite their ecological importance, parrotfishes have been intensively targeted in many regions of the world. In Brazil, four of the endemic species are now threatened to some degree due to overfishing, including the largest, Scarus trispinosus, which can reach a length of 90 cm. Signs of depletion of these species strengthen our need to inform conservation and management through a better understanding of their patterns of abundance, biomass, habitat preferences, and assemblage structure across different reef types. We assessed abundance and size class distributions of six parrotfishes in northeastern Brazil and identified habitat preferences based on reef attributes. Species’ distributions were variable and related to their respective feeding modes and reef types. Such heterogeneity in habitat use suggests functional complementarity rather than functional redundancy among Brazilian parrotfish assemblages. Outer-shelf reefs sustained larger individuals for most of the species, whereas inner-shelf reefs supported higher abundances of small individuals. Despite being nurseries or developing areas, shallow inshore reefs sustain intense artisanal fishing activities targeting parrotfishes. The ongoing fishing pressure in nursery habitats may be causing significant declines in adult numbers in deeper outer-shelf reefs that are yet to be quantified. Such information may have important implications for management and conservation in the face of increasing fishing pressure. Conservation of Brazilian endemic parrotfishes requires protection of reefs with diverse attributes in order to conserve functional diversity.

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