A brute force approach to such a complex problem is obviously expensive and may not be particularly enlightening. An alternative is to proceed explicitly and consciously through the time-honored process of hypothesis building and testing. In our case the nature of our problem, the exploration of variability, requires that hypotheses are articulated in the form of models. The idea then is that a process is initiated where models explicate "the influence of physical processes on ocean ecosystems dynamics", the models are then tested via field programs, the tests yield new information upon which new models are elaborated and tested, and so on.... A critical element in the cycling process is that its quality is constrained by our capability to actually observe the system. That this capability is relatively limited is well documented. The potential for major improvement in acoustics, software, and computing holds promise that the cycle of model building and field testing can be made to be much more efficient than it has been in the past.
Accordingly, in what follows we consider the quantitative hypothesis, the models. Next we discuss the kinds of field programs that would be appropriate to (1) test the models, and (2) be most stimulative with respect to model reformulation. Finally we point out the range of options available for the development of advanced technology.