Stakeholder-informed ecosystem modeling of ocean warming and acidification impacts in the barents sea region

Stefan Koenigstein*, Matthias Ruth, Stefan Gößling-Reisemann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate change and ocean acidification are anticipated to alter marine ecosystems, with consequences for the provision of marine resources and ecosystem services to human societies. However, considerable uncertainties about future ecological changes and ensuing socio-economic impacts impede the identification of societal adaptation strategies. In a case study from the Barents Sea and Northern Norwegian Sea region, we integrated stakeholder perceptions of ecological changes and their significance for societies with the current state of scientific knowledge, to investigate the marine-human system under climate change and identify societal adaptation options. Stakeholders were engaged through personal interviews, two local workshops, and a web based survey, identifying the most relevant ecosystem services potentially impacted and developing an integrated system dynamics model which links climate change scenarios to the response of relevant species. Stakeholder perceptions of temperature-dependent multiannual fluctuations of fish stocks, interactions among fish, marine mammal, and seabird populations, and ecological processes such as primary production are represented in the model. The model was used for a discourse-based stakeholder evaluation of potential ecosystem changes under ocean warming and acidification scenarios, identifying shifts in ecosystem service provision and discussing associated societal adaptation options. The results pointed to differences in adaptive capacity among user groups. Small-scale fishers and tourism businesses are potentially more affected by changing spatial distribution and local declines in marine species than industrial fisheries. Changes in biodiversity, especially extinctions of polar species, and ecosystem functioning were a concern from an environmental conservation viewpoint. When considering potential additional impacts of ocean acidification, changes observed in the model projections were more uniformly valued as negative, and associated with an increased potential for conflicts among user groups. The stakeholder-informed ecosystem modeling approach has succeeded in driving a discussion and interchange among stakeholder groups and with scientists, integrating knowledge about climate change impacts in the social-ecological system and identifying important factors that shape societal responses. The approach can thus serve to improve governance of marine systems by incorporating knowledge about system dynamics and about societal uses and values.

Original languageEnglish
Article number93
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 Koenigstein, Ruth and Gößling-Reisemann


  • Barents Sea
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Marine ecosystem services
  • Marine systems
  • Ocean acidification
  • Participatory modeling

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