Scientific project

High-performance computing projects climate change impacts on biodiversity

Experiments will identify regions of extinction, persistence and ocean-accessible, climatic corridors for biodiversity.

Credits: Trenton Systems

The project embarks on a mission to understand the profound impact of climate change on marine biodiversity at a global scale. Empirical evidence has shown significant shifts in the distribution and behavior of marine life due to climate change, with species moving poleward, equatorward, and changing depths. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the vulnerability of biodiversity escalates, potentially leading to substantial losses, from individual genes to entire ecosystems. However, traditional assessments of these impacts often fall short, relying on climate velocity indicators that consider temperature alone, neglecting other critical factors like oxygen levels, pH, and primary productivity. Additionally, they overlook the role of oceanographic connectivity, which can restrict species’ ability to adapt to shifting environmental conditions, particularly for species with limited dispersal capabilities.

Our research team is poised to address these challenges comprehensively. We will employ high-performance computing and advanced algorithms to develop an innovative approach that combines climate change exposure assessments with oceanographic connectivity estimates. This approach will help us identify regions where marine biodiversity faces potential extinction, regions of persistence, and ocean-accessible climatic corridors.

Experiments will span from the year 2020 to 2100, examining various scenarios of global change. We will consider multiple environmental predictors, including sea surface temperature, oxygen levels, productivity, and pH, while factoring in the direction and intensity of ocean currents. By identifying analogs in climate conditions through time, we aim to pinpoint sites where conditions will resemble those of current habitats. Oceanographic connectivity will be incorporated into our analysis, allowing us to account for the dispersal limitations of marine species. We will use advanced mathematical techniques, including sigma dissimilarity and anisotropic resistance surfaces, parameterized with ocean current data.

In summary, our project aims to provide valuable insights into the future of marine biodiversity under the influence of climate change. Our findings will contribute to informed conservation and management policies, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals 9, 13, and 14 of the 2030 Agenda and aiding the IPCC’s impact assessments.

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Jorge Assis [PhD, Associate Researcher]
Centre of Marine Sciences, University of Algarve [Faro, Portugal]
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