Arctic Marine Mammal Vulnerability to Climate Change
Nov 19, 2019
Shawn Noren, Ph.D
Arctic Marine Mammal Vulnerability to Climate Change

Dr. Shawn Noren has been investigating the physiology ecology of marine mammals for over 2 decades. She has worked at the Smithsonian Institute, NOAA, and is currently affiliated with University of California Santa Cruz. She has lived on an uninhabited island in Nova Scotia and in Antarctica to study seals. She explores connections between physiology and the larger-scale functions of marine mammals within their environment to understand how global climate change and other human perturbations may impact marine mammals. Dr. Noren has published nearly 40 scientific papers in prestigious scientific journals such as Nature, her research has drawn a lot of media attention including being highlighted in The New York Times, The Economist, and Science Magazine. She has even been on The Discovery Channel and was recently filmed in Vancouver for a Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) show titled The Nature of Things.

Data from Dr. Noren’s research was used in the 2013 legislative decision to strengthen the dolphin-safe label and in the 2017 Pacific Walrus Report used to determine if walruses should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Currently she is doing research to develop a validated metric to remotely monitor the body condition of free-ranging cetacean. This will help managers determine if environmental change or anthropogenic disturbances are preventing animals from meeting their daily caloric requirements, which can impact vital rates.

Dr. Noren’s talk is titled “Arctic Marine Mammal Vulnerability to Climate Change”. During her presentation, she will talk briefly about the numerous ways that global climate change is impacting marine ecosystems worldwide, and then she will focus in on how Arctic marine mammals are being affected. She will share information about her recent research projects working with beluga whales and Pacific walruses, and conclude with encouraging the group to take proactive steps to do their part in curbing carbon emissions and supporting research and management efforts geared towards conservation.