FLAME - Future Coastal Ocean Climates

Focus Area

FA 2: Future Coastal Ocean climates: Earth System observing and modelling

Lead Institution

National Oceanography Centre, UK (ww.noc.ac.uk)

Lead Institution Contact Person

Jo Hopkins

Partner Institutions

Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change Foundation (CMCC), Italy

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia

Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR), Canada


FLAME will generate high-resolution, downscaled decadal to centennial projections of future coastal ocean climates and the impacts on coastal ecosystems, hazards, services and resources at the local-regional scales necessary for informed decision making across a range of polar, temperate, subtropical and tropical regions. It will achieve this by making a step-change in regional Earth System Model process fidelity and climate downscaling approaches, and by providing new projections, downscaling, predictive and hazard assessment tools.

FLAME sets a high-level framework to be collectively pursued throughout the Decade, aiming to inform future IPCC reporting. It will use CoastPredict, other Decade programmes and partner stakeholder networks to turn advances in understanding and predictive ability into actionable products that can inform climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions. New partners who wish to contribute to this effort are welcomed.

Objectives of the project connected to the Ocean Decade Outcomes

Whilst climate change is increasingly better understood and modelled on global scales, climate impacts are most acutely felt across the coastal ocean, where human populations are reliant upon ocean resources and services and where they are most vulnerable to coastal hazards. The objective of FLAME is to improve understanding and projections of the global coastal oceans response to future climate change on decadal to centennial time scales, the impact that this will have on coastal ecosystems, hazards, services and coastal populations and to provide a range of regionally to locally relevant downscaling, predictive and hazard assessment tools that are freely accessible. This will support the development and implementation of long-term resilience, adaptation and mitigation strategies, notably in the most vulnerable, under-studied and under-resourced coastal ocean regions and will help deliver ‘A predicted ocean where society understands and can respond to changing ocean conditions’.

Key outcomes

1. Improved decadal to centennial scale projections of the global coastal ocean under future climate change, at local, regional and global scales. Elucidation of the primary drivers of change (atmosphere vs land vs ocean vs cryosphere vs human impacts) and an understanding of how climate change signals propagate between ocean basins and local coastal scales (and vice versa).

2. Identification and understanding of the drivers of local to global scale impacts* of future change on coastal hazards, and the health, vulnerability, resilience and adaptability of coastal ecosystems, habitats and coastal populations.

3. Provision of downscaling approaches, predictive, hazard and vulnerability assessment tools to coastal ocean regions and communities, and strengthened delivery of actionable climate-related products that can provide pathways to better informed decision-making and management strategies of the coastal ocean in a changing climate, and support tailored and innovative adaptation and mitigation solutions on local-regional scales.

4. Strengthened and better connected international community of future coastal ocean model practitioners who will be working towards a Global Coastal Ocean Model Intercomparison Programme in the regional downscaling sense.

*The impacts of climate change in the coastal ocean will be considered in the context of hydro-dynamical regime shifts, nutrient status and cycling, oxygen health (hypoxia and oxygen minimum zones), sediment budgets and geomorphology, primary productivity and the coastal ocean food chain, coastal ocean acidification, the health and status of coastal habitats and blue carbon stores (e.g. coral reefs, seagrass bed, mangroves), the coastal oceans role in the global carbon and nitrogen cycles and the future frequency and severity of hazards such as sea level rise and coastal flooding (e.g. storm surges, waves).