An international team from the Nippon Foundation-University of British Columbia Nereus program has unveiled the first global model of life in the world’s oceans, allowing scientists and policymakers to predict—and show through 3D visualizations—the state of life in the oceans of the future. The Nereus model not only provides a first global view of life in our oceans, but also a predictive view of the future impacts of choices we are making now.
Combining scientific data from three major factors impacting our oceans – climate change, human activity (including fisheries and river run-off) and food web dynamics (fish eating fish), the Nereus model shows life under the sea from 1960 to 2060. Based on current policies, the model shows a strong decline in the biomass of large fish, while some small fish may actually be increasing.
“Our preliminary results show a global fish biomass of two billion tonnes, confirming earlier estimates taken from regional modeling,” says UBC Fisheries Prof. Villy Christensen, who presented the research recently at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Canada.
“This is the first comprehensive attempt to model life in our global oceans, and will require refining, but we can now show the future impact of choices we are making today, and answer the question: what must we do now to leave healthy oceans and fish to future generations?”
The Nereus model was developed by an international team of scientists in the Nereus—Predicting the Future Ocean program, a joint initiative between the Nippon Foundation and UBC. It is capable of analyzing data from four linked global models—Earth System, Ocean Life, Biodiversity Envelope, and Fisheries Management and Governance—to generate 3D scenarios based on different fisheries management choices and policies.