This article was adapted from an announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The USF College of Marine Science (CMS) has been awarded $200,000 over four years from NOAA as part of a new Florida Regional Ecosystems Stressors Collaborative Assessment (FRESCA) project.
“Our team will be involved in reconstructing the history of the stressors in coastal and coral reef areas of South Florida,” says Frank Müller-Karger, distinguished university professor at USF CMS. “This includes putting together over two decades of measurements made using cameras from many different satellites and oceanographic expeditions made by different groups, including our own, between the Florida Keys and Tampa Bay. We will bring in data from the expeditions we make every two months as part of the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network. These measurements will help calibrate and check the accuracy of the models we will make as part of the other project modules to forecast impacts on marine life.”
The CMS award is part of an anticipated four-year, $4.2 million project by NOAA to support research on multi-stressor impacts on marine ecosystems under climate change. The newly funded FRESCA project, co-led by NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School, will focus on climate impacts to South Florida’s coastal and marine ecosystems, including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the southwest Florida Shelf.
South Florida’s coastal and marine ecosystems provide critical ecosystem services, supporting recreation and tourism, and generating billions of dollars for the economy and tens of thousands of jobs annually. The well-being of over six million people in Florida’s coastal counties depend on these ecosystems. Past and current research efforts and programs typically have focused on understanding the impact of single stressors on species and ecosystems. Unfortunately, these ecosystems are beset by a myriad of stressors, including ocean acidification, hypoxia, harmful algal blooms (HABs), increasing water temperatures, and eutrophication. Understanding the impacts and relationships among these multiple stressors remains elusive, yet critical to understanding stressors’ interactions and predicting future impacts to ecosystems in South Florida.
The goal of the FRESCA project is to assess how five key stressors (ocean acidification, hypoxia, HABs, increased ocean temperatures, and eutrophication) are impacting South Florida’s coastal and marine ecosystems, and to characterize the impacts of these stressors under present and future climate change scenarios, as well as Everglades, seagrass, and coral reef restoration scenarios. Resource managers will use these products to prepare for the anticipated impacts of climate change by increasing their understanding of how multiple stressors are likely to interact and affect these ecosystems and the communities dependent on them.