Regional Priorities and Site Selection

U.S. GLOBEC's Initial Science Plan (U.S. GLOBEC 1991b) identified a number of criteria that should be considered in the selection of sites for U.S. GLOBEC field studies. Those scientific and strategic criteria are:

Climate Change Context--the research program should have the capability to link its results to climate change. As discussed above, the ecosystems of both the CCS and CGOA regions have responded directly and strongly to interannual and interdecadal variability in climate forcing.

Target Species in Holozooplankton, Fish and Benthos--Both the CCS and CGOA have numerous species, some of them economically important, within each category that are potentially impacted by climate variability and climate change (see the section below on target species selection).

Population Dynamics as the Output--The research should, to the extent possible, be designed so that target populations are demographically and geographically distinct. U.S. GLOBEC seeks to understand how populations fluctuate in response to physical processes. This is probably the most difficult criterion to satisfy in the CGOA and CCS ecosystems, and will require different approaches than those used to study the populations residing on Georges Bank.

Focus on Processes and Mechanisms--GLOBEC aims to understand the mechanisms responsible for population and ecosystem responses. This is required in order to use the results of the field research programs in the development of models capable of predicting population and ecosystem responses to conditions that in the future differ from the present. The studies outlined below for the CGOA and CCS focus on physical processes and their impact on the populations such as: onshore-offshore transport; physical impacts on the match-mismatch of resources and consumers, etc. (see sections below, and also page 5).

Historical Database--Study sites should have considerable data on the distribution and abundance of target species, on the physical oceanography, and on climate. The CCS and CGOA ecosystems that are the selected sites have been studied extensively, as is indicated by some of the relationships discussed earlier relating climate, physics and population abundances.

Modeling Input--Previous modeling of the ocean's circulation and ecosystems are important, as is the modeling that will be supported directly by the U.S. GLOBEC program during the field period. Predictive models are one of the types of anticipated products of all U.S. GLOBEC regional programs. Physical circulation models have been developed for the basin as a whole and for some regions of the CCS and of the CGOA. Biological models are less developed and will be a specific focus of the U.S. GLOBEC program, as will coupling between basin-scale and regional models.

New Technology--U.S. GLOBEC regional study programs should utilize recently developed technologies that offer improved data sets; these improvements could be better temporal or spatial resolution, or techniques for measuring rates (such as growth, etc.) in new ways.

International Collaboration--U.S. GLOBEC studies of the CCS and CGOA will be the U.S. contribution to a larger international effort. First, modeling, monitoring and retrospective analysis of this U.S. GLOBEC initiative will extend to Pacific regions not specifically the focus of U.S. GLOBEC process studies, and will provide linkages to other programs (see the sections on modeling, monitoring and retrospective analysis in the implementation plan below). Specifically, in the North Pacific the PICES (North Pacific Marine Science Organization) program, in conjunction with GLOBEC International, hopes to coordinate multiple regional experiments investigating both small pelagic fish stocks and Pacific salmonids. Canada GLOBEC is supporting investigations focused on inner shelf zooplankton populations and salmon. Those studies include both modeling and process investigations of the relations among primary production, zooplankton distribution and abundance, shelf circulations, and salmon distribution and growth. One of the initiatives being developed by the IAI (Inter-American Institute for Climate Change) program is a comparative study of the upwelling ecosystems of the North and South Pacific west coasts. U.S. GLOBEC's studies proposed here for the California Current ecosystem are a possible model for the development by IAI of similar research activities off Chile and Peru. Although the specific focus of the science supported by IAI on the west coast of the America's is not yet known, hopefully, those studies will complement U.S. GLOBEC's research on zooplankton and salmon in the Northeast Pacific Moreover, research conducted off of North America under the auspices of the GLOBEC International Small Pelagics and Climate Change (SPACC) program will focus on the Southern California Bight and Northern Mexico, providing a southward extension to the studies supported by U.S. GLOBEC further north.

Generality of System, both Physical and Biological--This criterion is critical if U.S. GLOBEC's results are to be applicable to regions other than those specifically targeted for field investigation. The CGOA and CCS systems provide a natural comparison of downwelling and upwelling ecosystems, respectively. Other ecosystems, occupied by similar species, and with similar physical processes, occur across the globe. Understanding gained by studying these specific ecosystems will lead to a broader understanding of those other similar ecosystems elsewhere.

The planning process for U.S. GLOBEC Northeast Pacific studies has included broad participation of oceanographic and fisheries scientists from the U.S. and other countries. Planning for ecosystem studies in the Pacific by U.S. GLOBEC spanned the region from the Bering Sea to the Southern California Bight. However, it is not possible to study the entire region with the funding available (or anticipated). Thus, for process-oriented field studies in the Northeast Pacific, the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) of the U.S. GLOBEC program has selected two domains as their highest priority: (1) the northern half of the California Current System (CCS); and (2) the Coastal Gulf of Alaska (CGOA). Two contrasting subregions within the CCS will be studied: the area between Vancouver Island, Canada and Cape Blanco, Oregon (Region I of the CCS) and the area between Cape Blanco, Oregon and Point Conception, California (Region II of the CCS). As reviewed above, ecosystems in these regions show clear, qualitative and quantitative state changes in the physics, productivity, zooplankton and fish in recent years, presumably in response to changes in large-scale physical forcing of the North Pacific. On this larger scale, retrospective studies, modeling and monitoring activities will be less limited and are expected to include the important basin-scale processes and fluctuations, with higher resolution in the priority areas. U.S. GLOBEC desires to better document the changes in these regions, their connections to the basin-scale climatic variability, and the mechanisms by which the changes occurred. An ultimate goal is to develop diagnostic and prognostic models using our improved understanding of these mechanisms.

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