GLOBEC (Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics) is a component of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The biogeochemical and physical environment of the earth is in a state of flux, and the consequences of changes to our planet's climate and biological systems need to be identified. The goal of GLOBEC is to identify and evaluate how a changing physical environment will affect marine animal populations. The components of the program include:

  1. A mechanistic approach with major emphasis on how the local environment affects the feeding, growth, reproduction, and survival of organisms;

  2. A close working partnership between physical and biological oceanographers, featuring joint focus on particular sites and processes plus well-matched space and time scales;

  3. Exchange of information about coupled physical-biological models and field observations and experiments;

  4. Development and use of new technologies to reduce the problem of chronic undersampling of the sea (especially for biological variables).

Planning of U.S. GLOBEC Research

GLOBEC planning is under the leadership of a 16-member scientific steering committee initially appointed in early 1989. A master GLOBEC Initial Science Plan (Peterson 1991) and GLOBEC workshop reports have been published on modeling (Hofmann et al. 1991), use of biotechnology (Incze and Walsh l991), use of acoustical and optical technology (Holliday et al. 1991), and for a field study in the northwest Atlantic (Huntley and Olson l991). Each of the reports derives from planning workshops representing a broad sampling of the scientific community. The standard U.S. GLOBEC planning and implementation sequence is:

  1. Identification by the steering committee of a major research need or study area.

  2. A planning workshop with broad participation of the scientific community. The output of the workshop is a report listing the most appropriate and potentially rewarding research topics, tools, and approaches, and the terms of reference for all subsequent activities. (This report is the product of one such workshop).

  3. A call for specific research proposals by NSF and NOAA, overlapping with

  4. Detailed planning meetings among small groups of selected investigators and invited experts to determine the levels of vessel use, collect background data, and establish procedures for archiving and exchanging data.

  5. Preparation and submission of competitive research proposals by groups of investigators.

  6. Funding and execution of individual research projects.

Strategy for GLOBEC Field Programs

The U.S. GLOBEC Initial Science Plan identifies three major areas of scientific effort: theory and mathematical modeling; technology development; and multidisciplinary seagoing and laboratory measurement programs. Individual research projects are encouraged and supported not only on for their merit, but also for how well they support and complement other GLOBEC research. In particular, GLOBEC study sites and field programs should meet the following criteria:

  1. Climate change context: the research should deal with marine ecosystems' response to changing environmental conditions.

  2. Focus on processes and mechanisms: the goal is mechanistic understanding, not simply statistical forecasting.

  3. Modeling component: the improvement of our capability to predict, which is an ultimate aim of GLOBEC, presumes a significant emphasis on modeling.

  4. New technology: the research should adapt and exploit new technology to resolve the structure of populations and physical environment.

  5. Multispecies focus: the research should include a variety of taxa (holozooplankton, fish, and benthos) so that the study of ecosystem response can be vertically integrated.

  6. Definable populations: the populations under study should be demographically and geographically identifiable.

  7. Population dynamics: research may focus on a variety of processes that do not expressly operate at the temporal/spatial scales of the population, but such studies must be complemented by concurrent research that establishes the importance of these processes to population dynamics.

  8. Historical data base: study sites should have a considerable historical data base covering the distribution and abundance of target species, their physiology and ecology, local climate, and fluid dynamics at multiple scales. Historical data will be helpful not only in planning research, but also in model verification.

  9. Broad scientific participation and application of results: to be achieved in part through integration with other global change programs, multiple agency support, and international collaboration.

  10. Generality of system, both physical and biological: specific sites should represent major classes of marine ecosystems.

To date, three "large marine ecosystems" have been identified for early U.S. GLOBEC field effort (the Northwest Atlantic continental shelf and slope, the California Current system, and the Southern Ocean in the vicinity of the Antarctic Peninsula). All meet the above criteria, and complement each other by covering a broad range of ecosystem types and physical-biological linkages. The objective of this report is to outline the background for a basic research plan for the California Current ecosystem.