Sunday, 22 January 2012
Atmosphere and Ocean Variables Along the Washington Coast: Comparisons Between 20th and 21st Century Conditions
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
A variety of episodic events of relevance to marine environmental health are experienced by the marine ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest. It is unclear whether the frequency or magnitude of the events will change due to global climate change. The present paper uses global climate model simulations that were carried out for the 4th Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) to determine how the sea surface temperatures, surface air temperatures, and winds of the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest are liable to evolve over the first half of the 21st century. The uncertainty in the model projections due to imperfections in the models, and the chaotic nature of the climate system, are quantitatively evaluated through consideration of an ensemble of model runs. This work constitutes a first step towards developing empirical relationships linking the climate forcing to the mesoscale episodic events known to be crucial to ecosystem structure and function. It is also designed to complement ongoing research using high-resolution numerical ocean model simulations (dynamical downscaling) to make direct predictions of coastal ocean properties related to environmental health.