Working Group 49: Climate Extremes and Coastal Impacts in the Pacific
  • Acronym: WG 49
  • Parent Committee: FUTURE-SSC
  • Term: PICES-2021 – PICES-2026

There is recognition of increased risk of more frequent and more severe extreme events within the Pacific domain. For example, a series of Marine Heat Waves (MHW) has occurred in the eastern North Pacific over the past 5 years, with substantial ecological and socioeconomic impacts on the west coast of North America. The 2015 MHW resulted in one of the largest harmful algal blooms ever recorded, leading to lost shellfish harvest, marine mammal deaths and lasting impacts on coastal communities (McCabe et al. 2015). In the western North Pacific Ocean near Japan, another long-term MHW occurred in the Oyashio region from 2010 to 2016, with significant impacts on local communities through changes in fish species available for catch (Miyama et al. 2021). There is a clear need to better understand the physical drivers and assess the predictability of MHWs and other extreme events, such as heavy rainfall, typhoons, and coastal inundation, and to be more prepared to resolve the socioeconomic impacts resulting from these events. Coastal communities around the Pacific Rim, which are highly reliant on coastal ecosystem services, are particularly vulnerable to these extreme events and in need of a suite of potential solutions to these climate-driven changes

Terms of Reference
  1. Develop a census of historical climate extreme events around the Pacific Rim to describe their characteristics, identify potential climate and ocean drivers, and catalog the ecological and socioeconomic consequences.
  2. Focus on case studies (e.g., MHWs) for full exploration: drivers, predictability, ecological and societal impacts, and dissemination of information for actionable solutions.
  3. Assess the predictability of climate extremes and establish leading indicators to mitigate impacts on coastal communities.
  4. Develop models to predict how existing ecosystem services may be affected by climate extremes and what effects those would have on different human communities.
  5. Identify a set of social, economic, and cultural indicators that account for the suite of human dimension impacts from climate extremes.
  6. Work with experts in science communications and participants in the UN Decade of Ocean Science (e.g., SMARTNET) to develop and disseminate information and products related to the drivers, predictability and impacts of climate extremes.
  7. Identify and engage partners in the prioritization of activities and deliverables.