• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Published: April 1, 2009
First published in IGBP's Global Change Newsletter Issue 73, April 2009

Salmon pHishing in the North Pacific Ocean

Skip McKinnell
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Features |
The Ocean in a High-CO2 World: Science highlights from the symposium
The northern North Pacific is home to salmon populations that have sustained human societies throughout their history in the region. Salmon are potentially linked to CO2 emissions by one of their prey, a marine snail or shelled pteropod called Limacina helicina. The shells of this mollusk are made of the aragonitic form of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which may begin to dissolve as the oceans acidify so that their fate as a component of the holoplankton is potentially threatened by an increasingly acidic ocean. What if pteropods simply disappeared from the North Pacific? During the 20th century they received little attention from the scientific community but they were found routinely in salmon diets. Historical data reveal considerable variability in where and when they are important as prey. During the last five decades, chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) stomachs from the northwestern Pacific contained about 15-25% pteropods and this trend has been increasing. During the 1960s in the Gulf of Alaska, humpback salmon (O. gorbuscha) stomachs contained about 15% pteropods on average in April. The current situation is poorly known as studies of salmon ecology are rare in this part of the Pacific, but if pteropods continue to form a component of salmon diets, it is likely that ocean acidification will increasingly affect this food source.
Sockeye salmon haul off the Canadian coast in the mid 1980s.
Insert: Chum salmon caught in the high seas of the North Pacific Ocean.
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