Mapping Deep Blue Habitat in a Changing Climate

Patricia L Yager, University of Georgia, Department of Marine Sciences, Athens, GA, United States, Julie Spivey, University of Georgia, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Athens, GA, United States, Justin Ebert, University of Georgia, Marine Sciences, Athens, GA, United States, Jessica Wenclawiak, University of Georgia, Biology, Athens, GA, United States and Curtis A. Deutsch, University of Washington Seattle Campus, School of Oceanography, Seattle, United States
We have created an interactive data visualization platform that maps past, present, and projected future changes to deep ocean habitat.

Understanding how ocean changes – from rising temperatures and acidity, to declining oxygen and nutrient supply - will sustain or threaten individual species and overall ecosystem function is a major challenge for scientists, stakeholders, and an informed citizenry. For all these groups, an impediment to understanding the fate of the oceans stems from the difficulty of visualizing the connections among disparate factors that structure and perturb marine habitat. This is especially true for the deep ocean, where global visualization tools like remote sensing cannot reach.

Our tool has been developed from a combination of three existing resources: 1) current and historical climate data for the global ocean physical and chemical environment, 2) a rich and growing data archive of contemporary marine species distributions, and 3) output from state of the art earth system models that are used to project climate states under a variety of human CO2 emissions scenarios.

We assemble these existing resources into a single, open-source analysis and visualization pipeline to create a user-friendly interface that makes these visualizations accessible to everyone. By creating a system valuable to researchers, stakeholders, and educators, we aim to build transformational collaborative capacity across these separate communities.

Here we will demonstrate how the tool works by using example changing habitat visualizations for key mesopelagic fish and invertebrate species.

This research was funded by National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) 2018: Discovering the Deep Blue Sea