Dr. Andrew Pershing has been chosen to lead GMRI’s research team as our new Chief Scientific Officer. Andy has worked at GMRI for eight years as a joint appointment with the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences. His research focuses on how climate change and variability impact Gulf of Maine species.
“By the time I was in graduate school, I really liked plankton,” Andy said. “They were really interesting, beautiful under a microscope, and challenging to study. But I also had strong interest in math and computers, so I was looking for a research question to bring those interests together.”
He found his question in a rice-sized crustacean called calanus finmarchicus. On a survey in 1998, he sampled water in some of the Gulf of Maine basins where calanus had been abundant the year before. When the survey found much lower numbers than anticipated, he wanted to understand what was driving the year-to-year variability of this crucial food source.
“Seventy-five percent of my research has been building out from that question,” Andy said. “I want to understand how factors like temperature, salinity, and fishing behavior interact and affect the ecosystem.”
As the average water temperature in the Gulf of Maine has increased a half degree Fahrenheit each year since 2004, climate has become a significant focus of Andy’s research. At the Building Climate Change Solutions conference in January, he presented that the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99.9% of the world’s oceans.
“The Gulf of Maine is providing us with a window into the future,” Andy said, “and GMRI’s multidisciplinary approach positions us to look through that window, understand what we see, and help fisheries adapt.”