"Six months, two years, five years"

by Zack Powell (U.S. GLOBEC SSC Chairman)

Good advisors learn quickly to discover what an advisee wants to do. They often counsel the advisee to do just what he or she wants -- unless it's a felony, or some other socially undesirable act. So, with my students, I find myself asking, "where would you like to be in...six months,...two years,...five years?"

The editor of U.S. GLOBEC News has turned the tables on me. He asked, "where would you like this program to be in '...six months,...two years,...five years.'" I cannot offer the reader a completely unbiased wish list. Any entry for the shorter, six-month time scale will reflect my involvement in program planning. Pretty safe. Conversely, even though our Long Range Science Plan (GLOBEC Report No. 12) covers a decade, the longer, five-year time horizon must contain a healthy dose of speculation. Finally, in this short space, I could only include a small number of the many desirable directions.

In the next six months NSF and NOAA sponsors will release an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) that will kick off U.S. GLOBEC activities on the west coast of North America. The AO will focus on modeling and retrospective studies, as is our convention. Successful projects will be the first steps up the ramp to a fully integrated program of modeling, retrospective investigations, field surveys, and process studies. Within six months the second phase of Georges Bank process studies, focusing on sources, sinks, and retention on the Bank, will begin. Funding decisions have been completed. Investigators in the Northwest Atlantic will be trying to find the time to complete the analyses of data collected in 1995, and prepare for an enormous number of days at sea in 1997. And Peter Wiebe, chair of the Georges Bank Executive Committee, his image looming over computer screens and cruise reports, will ceaselessly encourage and cajole his colleagues into 25 hour days, and more.

I have confidence in these "six-month" projections -- especially Wiebe's presence.

In two years, after a review of the existing Science Plan, the GLOBEC Core Project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) will have produced an exciting Implementation Plan. That Plan will contain an ambitious schedule for coordinated, multi-national GLOBEC activities in the Southern Ocean. A review of the U.S. GLOBEC program in the Northwest Atlantic will be complimentary to the energy and scientific productivity of the investigators. Well over one hundred articles will have originated from the Georges Bank investigations. The Northwest Atlantic program will be in the final stages of preparation for their third and final intensive field season. Collaborative cruises with Canada GLOBEC studies on the Scotian Shelf will be a feature of this last field effort. West coast modelers will be preparing for an AGU/ASLO Ocean Sciences session on coupled physical/biological models for the west coast of North America. An unprecedented number of proposals for process studies on the west coast will have just been submitted. Researchers will be anxiously awaiting decisions from NSF and NOAA funding sources.

Over one hundred articles by mid-1998 is an underestimate. The present number of contributions stands at 71. Check our homepage for U.S. GLOBEC contributions. I am confident about the quality of the U.S. GLOBEC research on Georges Bank. I trust any review team will agree. And a target date of the year 2000 for the first process studies on the west coast seems within our grasp, funding willing.

In five years funded research for the Northwest Atlantic program on Georges Bank will have ended. A skeletal broad-scale survey will continue, however. The survey data, as well as results from coupled physical-biological models developed during the GLOBEC endeavors, will be routinely incorporated into NMFS stock assessments for Georges Bank and nearby regions. Under sponsorship from IGBP, the GLOBEC SPACC (Small Pelagic and Climate Change) program will be underway in the Benguela Current, off Peru/Chile, and in the Southern California Bight. Studies with coupled physical-biological models for the entire Pacific and Atlantic Oceans will have begun in the previous year. Embedded in these basin-scale models will be mesoscale coupled models that contain detailed, realistic formulations for various biological phenomena, including vertical migration and food capture by copepods. The models in the Pacific will assimilate biological data routinely from two of the three SPACC sites, Canadian and Japanese GLOBEC activities in the North Pacific, as well as U.S. activities in the Calif. Current and the Gulf of Alaska.

Perhaps my "five-year" time horizon for basin-scale modeling is optimistic -- but not by much. Moreover, the routine incorporation of model data into fisheries stock assessments is already here. In the Gulf of Alaska stock assessments for walleye pollock now utilize model results from the NOAA/NMFS Shelikof Strait FOCI (Fisheries Oceanography Cooperative Investigations), a program that closely resembles U.S. GLOBEC studies.

When I encounter acquaintances from the broader U.S. oceanographic community, the greetings, kidding, and good-natured ribbing are inevitably followed by "Well, how's GLOBEC doin'?" Often I sense my questioner would prefer an answer like, "just fine". Or "not so well, but I don't have time to explain". So "just fine" is how I usually answer. Nothing elaborate. But the U.S. GLOBEC community is entitled to a more detailed answer. My optimistic "six months,...two years,...five years" prognoses are more than a wish list, of course. I offer them to the reader as my short answer to how well U.S. GLOBEC is doing.