Climate Change in the Pacific Region
Pacific Region

Sea Temperature Increase in the Pacific Northwest

As the climate changes and air temperatures increase, the temperature of water bodies goes up as well. Warmer ocean water contributes to several other climate impacts including sea level rise and increased storm intensity. The temperature of the ocean surface has already increased approximately 1.1°F (0.6°C) since 1950 and model projections estimate that by 2050 most of the northern Pacific Ocean is expected to increase by 1.8 to 2.9°F (1.0-1.6°C).

An increase in ocean and coastal water temperature will also alter the availability of nutrients and change algal, plankton and fish abundance in high-latitude oceans and coasts. Changes in ocean temperature will also influence where mobile marine species are able to live. For example species that are not adapted to cold water will be able to spread into new areas as they warm, while others that are currently adapted to colder water may disappear from areas as the colder water habitat shrinks. Other species such as Pacific coral reefs can suffer direct negative effects due to sea temperature increases.  Episodes of coral bleaching caused by thermal stress anomalies have already occured during recent El Nino events.



Learn more and read about the research that provided the information above by checking out the links below:

Nicholls, R. J., et al. Coastal systems and low-lying areas. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Edited by M. L. Parry, O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, P. J. van der Linden and C. E. Hanson. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 315-356.

Overland, J. E., and M. Wang. Future climate of the North Pacific Ocean. Eos 88, no. 16 (2007): 178,182

PIRCA, Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment. 2012.  Climate Change and Pacific Islands: Indicators and Impacts






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Last updated: September 12, 2013

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