Emanuele Di Lorenzo
Professor of Ocean & Climate Dynamics
School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Georgia Institute of Technology


Coastal ocean environments and marine ecosystems are changing under the influence of climate and human pressures. Understanding and predicting these changes under different scenarios (e.g. climate forcing, fishing, changes in human values and policy) rely on the development of integrated and quantitative models that capture the interaction dynamics between climate, marine ecosystems and the human dimension. 

Here I illustrate the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the climate mechanisms underlying observed variations in coastal marine ecosystems. I will present a simple climate-driven process model to explain observed long-term changes in marine populations off the California coast. By generalizing these findings, I show that this model predicts the natural emergence of observed ecosystem properties. Such properties include the tendency for coastal marine populations to exhibit sudden state transitions, and for synchronization in fish populations in Pacific coastal ocean boundary systems. 

These types of reduced complexity models allow us to isolate dominant dynamics of the integrated natural system, which can be coupled to the dynamics of the human system and provide the basis for more robust forecasts of climate impacts on the coastal system. I will conclude my talk discussing a new international research initiative that aims at developing a conceptual and quantitative framework of a coastal social-ecological-environmental system.