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Biogeochemical Projections under a Changing Climate

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    Katja Fennel Dalhousie University

Looking at ways to better quantify and project how marine species in Atlantic Canada will respond to environmental ocean changes over the coming decades and century.

Oceans across the globe are warming, becoming more acidic, and losing oxygen. These biogeochemical changes could have severe impacts on local marine ecosystems. Dr. Fennel’s research is looking at ways to better quantify and project how marine species in Atlantic Canada will respond to these environmental changes over the coming decades and century.

The scientific highlights of this project include novel work on fisheries modeling, which demonstrate the severe impacts that biogeochemical changes have on local marine ecosystems.

The project studies the effects of declining oxygen in the Atlantic ocean on the endangered Atlantic wolf fish. Research has found that the disappearance of wolf fish occurs when oxygen concentration levels decline below the critical level for this species and indicates where habitat will be impacted further in the future. 

Collaborative studies between natural and social scientists include concrete advice on how fisheries and conservation policies should be improved, in order to address the growing threats of warming, deoxygenation and acidification.

The continued collection of this important data set of inorganic carbon parameters on the Scotian Shelf is invaluable for documenting trends in ocean acidification and can be used as a baseline.

Regional downscaling of global models to a high-resolution regional model specific to the East Coast allows for more accurate findings that can be shared with stakeholders.


  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada - BIO - Maritimes
  • Gulf Aquarium & Marine Station
  • World Wildlife Fund


  • Kumiko Azetsu-Scott Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • David Brickman
  • Eric Galbraith
  • Diane Lavoie
  • Helmuth Thomas Dalhousie University
  • Keith Thompson Dalhousie University
  • David VanderZwaag Dalhousie University


  • Katie Brennan Dalhousie University
  • William Burt Dalhousie University
  • David Carozza McGill University
  • Mariona Claret McGill University
  • Susanne Craig Dalhousie University
  • Cecilia Engler-Palma Dalhousie University
  • Angela Kuhn Dalhousie University
  • Jonathan Lemay Dalhousie University
  • Krysten Rutherford Dalhousie University
  • Liuqian Yu Dalhousie University
  • Rui Zhang Dalhousie University
  • Wenxia Zhang Dalhousie University


  • Auclair,Jean-Pierre,Burt,William,Thomas,Helmuth,. 2013, Short-lived Radium Isotopes on the Scotian Shelf: Unique distribution and tracers of cross-shelf CO2 and nutrient transport, Marine Chemistry, 10.1016/j.marchem.2013.05.007.
  • VanderZwaag,David,. 2014, Belgium Review of International Law, Belgium Review of International Law, 47: 137-156,
  • Engler-Palma,Cecilia ,. 2014, Beyond Rhetoric: Navigating the conceptual tangel towards effective implementation of the ecosystem approach to oceans management , Environmental Reviews,
  • VanderZwaag,David,M Bailey, NL Shackell. 2017, Canada-U.S. Fisheries Management in the Gulf of Maine: Taking Stock and Charting Future Coordinates in the Face of Climate Change”, Ocean Yearbook, Vol. 31.,
  • Loder,John,van der Baaren, A. Yashayaev. 2014, Climate Comparisons and Change Projections for the Northwest North Atlantic from six CMIP5 Models, Atmosphere-Ocean,
  • Galbraith,Eric,Bianchi, D., Babbin, A.. 2014, Enhancement of Anammox by the Excretion of Diel Vertical Migrators, PNAS, 10.1073pnsa.1401790111.
  • Carozza, D. A., Bianchi, D., and Galbraith, E. D. 2017, Formulation, General Features and Global Calibration of a Bioenergetically-Constrained Fishery Model, PLoS , ONE 12(1): e0169763,doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0169763.
  • Thomas,Helmuth,Glavovic, B. C., K. Limburg, K.-K. Liu, K.-C. Emeis, H. Kremer, B. Avril, J. Zhang, M. R. Mulholland, M. Glaser, D. P. Swaney. 2015, Living on the Margin in the Anthropocene: engagement arenas for sustainability research and action at the ocean–land interface, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 14, 232–238,http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2015.06.003.
  • VanderZwaag,David,JA Hutchings, T Stephens. 2016, Marine Species at Risk Protection in Australia and Canada: Paper Promises, Paltry Progressions, 47 Ocean Development & International Law, 233-254,
  • Thomas,Helmuth,Gledhill, D. K., White, M. M., Salisbury, J., Mlsna, I., Liebman, M., Mook, B., Grear, J., Candelmo, A. C., Chambers, R. C., Gobler, C. J., Hunt, Waller, J. D., C. W., King, A. L., Price, N. N., Signorini, S., Stancioff, E., Stymiest, C., Wahle, R. A.,. 2015, Ocean and Coastal Acidification off New England and Nova Scotia , Oceanography, 28(2):182–197,http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2015.41.
  • Fennel,Katja,Lavoie,Diane,Bianucci, L., Chabot, D., Shackell, N.. 2016, Ocean biogeochemical models as management tools: a case study for Atlantic wolffish and declining oxygen, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 73(2):263-274,10.1093/icesjms/fsv220.
  • Brennan,Katie,Fennel,Katja,Blanchard, H.. 2014, Putting Temperature & Oxygen Thresholds on Marine Animals in Context of Environmental Change: A regional perspective for the Scotian Shelf and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Fish & Fisheries,
  • VanderZwaag,David,. 2013, Recovery Planning Under Canada's Species at Risk Act in a Changing Ocean: Gauging the Tides, Charting Future Coordinates, Journal of Environmental Law & Practice,
  • Fennel,Katja,VanderZwaag,David,Hartman, W.. 2014, Recovery Planning for Pacific Marine Species at Risk in the Wake of Climate Change and Ocean Acidification: Canadian practice, future courses, Journal of Environmental Law and Practice, 27, 23-56,
  • VanderZwaag,David,McDonald, S.. 2015, Renewable Ocean Energy and the International Law and Policy Seascape: Global Currents, Regional Surges, Ocean Yearbook, 29:299-326,
  • Thomas,Helmuth,. 2014, Seasonsal and Spatial Variability in the CO2 System on the Scotian Shelf (Northwest Atlantic), Mar. Chem, 10.1016/j.marchem.2014.01.009.
  • Brennan,Katie,Fennel,Katja,Bianucci, L.. 2016, Sensitivity of northwest North Atlantic shelf circulation to surface and boundary forcing: A regional model assessment, Atmosphere-Ocean, 10.1080/07055900.2016.1147416 .
  • Thomas,Helmuth,. 2013, Surface Ocean pCO2 Seasonality and Sea-Air CO2 Flux Estimates for the North American East Coast, JGR Oceans, 10.1002/jgrc.20369.
  • Galbraith,Eric,Martin, A.. 2015, The Frugal Phytoplankter: A simple hypothesis for nutrient uptake stoichiometry, PNAS,
  • Carozza, D. A., Bianchi, D., and Galbraith, E. D. 2016, The ecological module of BOATS-1.0: a bioenergetically constrained model of marine upper trophic levels suitable for studies of fisheries and ocean biogeochemistry,, Geosc, 9, 1545-1565,10.5194/gmd-9-1545-2016, 2016. .