The Portland-based Gulf of Maine Research Institute is launching a new virtual multi-disciplinary Climate Center in response to the rapid warming of ocean waters.
President and CEO Don Perkins says climate change science is evolving very quickly, but people aren't very good at looking forward at consequences.
"Most of us learn by, you know, what did we experience as kids? What did we learn from our parents or grandparents?" Perkins says. "The climate challenge is, OK, how do we think about the future and make decisions looking at a changing future, as opposed to a stable past?"
Over the last 15 years, Perkins says, the institute's researchers have discovered that the study of the fishery ecosystem is not just about biology, but also about humans and economics. And he says it's now clear that the Gulf of Maine is warming faster the rest of the world's oceans.
"And so all of a sudden we have this rapid change that portends the climate crisis that we're going to see in the future," he says, "and so now it's a natural question of, OK, what do we need to do to identify the challenge, identify the opportunity and bring people together to deal with it?"
Perkins says, among other initiatives, the Climate Center is now exploring how fish abundance and distribution will change in a warming ocean, preparing communities for sea level rise and educating the next generation of ocean stewards.