My research and teaching focus on predicting the likely ecological impacts of climate change on coastal ecosystems, and on the development of products that are scientifically accurate, understandable, and useful by a diverse array of stakeholders. A major goal of this approach is to inform decision makers with scientifically accurate and useful forecasts. While much of my work has focused on North American rocky intertidal ecosystems, my students and I also collaborate with colleagues around the world, including Australia, Brunei; Canada; China; Hong Kong; Iraq; Italy; South Africa; and the U.K.
Our work has shown some surprising results, and has suggested that our expectations of where to look for the effects of climate change in nature can be more complex than previously anticipated. For example, our research has shown that along the Pacific coast of the U.S., animal temperatures at sites in Oregon and Washington can be as hot or hotter than sites much farther to the south in California, due to the complex interaction of climate and tides in the region. This complexity suggests that unless we know where and when to look for impacts of climate change, many early impacts could go unnoticed.
Prof. Helmuth is a joint appointment between the College of Science and the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.