Atlantic cod graphic

A wooden cod fish hangs in the Massachusetts State House as a reminder of the Atlantic cod’s importance to the state’s history. But as oceans warm, this fish is moving out of U.S waters.

Malin Pinsky of Rutgers University says most marine life tolerates only a narrow range of temperatures.

Pinsky: “So even when the temperature warms up just a little bit, it has a large influence on their physiology, their heart rate, their metabolism, and even their ability to survive and reproduce.”

He recently studied how the habitat of hundreds of marine species will shift this century.

Pinsky: “What we found really surprised us. For some animals, their habitat is likely to move up to a thousand miles further north than it is now.”

The Atlantic cod, for example, will largely move away from U.S waters.

Pinksy: “It’s such a culturally important species in this country, and yet our projections suggested that habitat is likely to decline by 95% by the end of this century.”

But the impacts can be reduced. Pinsky’s research finds that if the world reduces carbon pollution as promised in the Paris Climate Agreement, dramatic shifts in marine habitats can be mostly avoided.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...