The Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems (EBUS) provide valuable ecosystem services for the biosphere and for humankind. These areas, geographically covering the Canary and Benguela Current Systems in the Atlantic Ocean and the California and Humboldt Current Systems in the Pacific Ocean, provide more fish per unit area than any other part of the global ocean, thus contributing to security livelihood strategies and food in many countries.
EBUS ecosystems have complex interactions between physical and biogeochemical dynamics and are subject to significant spatial and temporal variability on scales of meters/minutes to thousands of kilometers/centuries. EBUS are then sentinels of anthropogenic driven climate change that is of increasing concern due to global warming and its impact on marine ecosystems.
The first International Humboldt Conference took place in Lima-Peru in 2006 and led to a significant breakthrough in our understanding of how climate variability affects the Southeast Pacific EBUS. It also highlighted the importance of the Humboldt system as a management unit, and of the need for an integrated multidisciplinary approach, including state-of-the-art tools such as remote sensing and numerical modelling. In 2008, an international symposium on EBUS was held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, being the first one in covering the four main EBUS and considering all aspects of their dynamics, structure and functioning.
Since then, climate change and the increase of extreme events have become more notable, and there is now a new and urgent need to understand the sensitivity, vulnerability and resilience to large-scale perturbations of EBUS. This includes predictions of their responses to future trends, identifying societal needs and opportunities for adaptation. In near-shore regions, the anthropogenic footprint is enhanced due to multiple stressors including global warming, acidification, deoxygenation, pollution, habitat destruction, and Harmful Algal Blooms making these regions particularly vulnerable.
Technological advances over the last decades has led to an increased capacity for observing and modelling EBUS dynamics. Advances have also been made in the fields of population genetics, eco-physiology, behavioral ecology and fisheries management. Together this new knowledge and tools are leading to an improved understanding of ecosystem tipping points, and the ecosystem indicators needed to monitor status, trends, and potential regime shifts.
The conference also comes at a key juncture for global interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary ocean and atmospheric science communities and stakeholders since it will take place under the framework of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030); where scientists, stakeholders and society will need to work closely to protect ocean health. Also, the conference will occur following the Bicentenary year of Peruvian independence, and it is foreseen as a high visibility meeting with its outcomes covered by national media.