Journal Article

The response of Atlantic cod (<i>Gadus morhua</i>) to future climate change

Kenneth F. Drinkwater

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 62, issue 7, pages 1327-1337
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
The response of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) to future climate change

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  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Future CO2-induced climate change scenarios from Global Circulation Models (GCMs) indicate increasing air temperatures, with the greatest warming in the Arctic and Subarctic. Changes to the wind fields and precipitation patterns are also suggested. These will lead to changes in the hydrographic properties of the ocean, as well as the vertical stratification and circulation patterns. Of particular note is the expected increase in ocean temperature. Based upon the observed responses of cod to temperature variability, the expected responses of cod stocks throughout the North Atlantic to the future temperature scenarios are reviewed and discussed here. Stocks in the Celtic and Irish Seas are expected to disappear under predicted temperature changes by the year 2100, while those in the southern North Sea and Georges Bank will decline. Cod will likely spread northwards along the coasts of Greenland and Labrador, occupy larger areas of the Barents Sea, and may even extend onto some of the continental shelves of the Arctic Ocean. In addition, spawning sites will be established further north than currently. It is likely that spring migrations will occur earlier, and fall returns will be later. There is the distinct possibility that, where seasonal sea ice disappears altogether, cod will cease their migration. Individual growth rates for many of the cod stocks will increase, leading to an overall increase in the total production of Atlantic cod in the North Atlantic. These responses of cod to future climate changes are highly uncertain, however, as they will also depend on the changes to climate and oceanographic variables besides temperature, such as plankton production, the prey and predator fields, and industrial fishing.

Keywords: climate change; cod; North Atlantic; temperature

Journal Article.  6375 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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