A Mussel’s View of Climate Change: How Do Intertidal Organisms Experience Their Shifting World?
Explore how climate change is affecting coastal ecosystems, from the perspective of marine invertebrates.
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On the web
The impacts of global climate change on ocean ecosystems are now pervasive. But how well do we truly understand the ways in which a shifting climate affects non-human organisms, and how might our anthropocentric view of the world cloud our understanding of what to expect in nature? For example, unlike humans, the vast majority of plants and animals make no metabolic heat and as such have body temperatures that can fluctuate by 30°F or more over the course of a few hours.
Using a unique combination of computer modeling, field instrumentation and virtual reality technology, Brian Helmuth gives a worldwide tour of how climate change is affecting coastal ecosystems from the perspective of marine invertebrates, and explores how many of the most significant effects of global climate change can only be predicted when we step outside of our biased perceptions of how weather and climate affect natural ecosystems. His results suggest that while many coastal ecosystems may be much closer to collapse than initially expected, in some cases climate change can lead to positive responses at some locations. Discerning among these possibilities is therefore crucial if we are to find novel ways of adapting to a warmer planet.
Support for the Ted Exford Climate Stewards lecture series is provided by Dave & Loretta (Exford) Hoglund.
About the Presenter
Brian Helmuth is a Professor at the Marine Science Center at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, with appointments in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences and the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. Brian’s research and teaching focus on predicting the likely ecological impacts of climate change on coastal ecosystems. His lab group also collaborates with formal and informal educators to develop cutting edge technologies such as video games and virtual reality environments to facilitate science learning by K-16 students as well as to facilitate discussions amongst the general public. He currently serves as Chair of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board, which provides guidance to NOAA and to the Sea Grant Program. Brian also works extensively oversees on climate adaptation strategies in China and Iraq. A veteran of several saturation missions in the Aquarius underwater habitat, Helmuth was a science advisor to the Fabien Cousteau Mission 31 project in 2014. He is a Fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership program, which trains select scientists to interact with policy makers, journalists and the public and in 2011 was named a Google Science Communication Fellow in the area of climate change. He is a resident of Marblehead, MA.