Climate change, oceans focus of Fort Worden lecture

PORT TOWNSEND — Effects of low oxygen in the oceans will be explored in the next installment of the Port Townsend Marine Life Center’s lecture series, The Future of Oceans, on Sunday.

Curtis Deutsch — a University of Washington associate professor at the School of Oceanography, College of the Environment — will speak on “Short of Breath: Marine Life in a Warming World,” at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Commons at Fort Worden State Park.

“Oxygen has been critical for the evolution and maintenance of animal life on Earth,” said Deutsch, who received an Investigator Award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and is a Fellow of the Kavli Frontiers of Science.

“Humans and other air breathers can take it for granted, but marine animals don’t have that luxury.”

Deutsch’s research models biological and environmental data to better understand the interactions between climate change and ecosystems.

As natural cycles change over time, habitat is altered, he said. This affects the way plants and animals function, potentially threatening their existence.

Deutsch, who holds a doctorate, has focused on the chemical makeup of ocean water and how it affects marine animals, plants and micro-organisms, including phytoplankton, the source of roughly 50 percent of the Earth’s oxygen.

He also works with terrestrial ecologists to understand how climate influences the sensitivity of land plants and animals to the warming atmosphere.

“Ocean environments of low oxygen and poor habitability have waxed and waned throughout Earth’s history, and are poised to expand as humans warm the climate,” Deutsch said.

The Future of Oceans lecture series, which was started in 2014, explores the frontiers of ocean research and emerging technologies while confronting the human capacity to understand and sustain healthy oceans. E

To view the 2017-18 schedule of lectures, visit https://ptmsc.org/programs/learn/lecture-series.

For more information about the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, visit www.ptmsc.org.

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