U.S. GLOBEC Research Results and Impacts

Table of Contents

Fishery and Protected Species Management:

Several GLOBEC research results have already found their way into management decisions. The first example of these is the use of a circulation model developed under the GLOBEC Georges Bank program to evaluate the effectiveness of closed areas on Georges Bank. GLOBEC models were used in 1998 to predict the trajectories and settlement patterns of larval scallops. These results were presented to the New England Fisheries Management Council, and to (then) Secretary of Commerce Daley to inform and provide background for decisions on the reopening of closed areas to scalloping. Key locations within the existing closed areas were identified as important source areas for scallop larvae including a designated Habitat Area of Particular Concern in Closed Area 2, and as such it is important to maintain the closure in this region.

GLOBEC scientists were instrumental in the writing of a document that summarized the ecology and krill in the California Current. This review led to a decision by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council to implement a ban on the harvest of krill. More recently, U.S. GLOBEC scientists were awarded a NOAA bronze medal for developing a web-based description of eleven ocean productivity indicators which enables the forecasting of adult salmon returns years sooner than previous techniques. Forecasts of coho and Chinook salmon returns are posted here, on the Northwest Fisheries Science Center website, a partner in GLOBEC research. Analyses of ocean conditions and their impacts on salmon populations have recently been presented to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, and included in their 2008 deliberations on limiting or closing salmon fishing along the Washington-Oregon-California coasts.

U.S. GLOBEC support was essential for establishing the Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring (SECM) project of NOAA/NMFS Auke BayLaboratories. The SECM has focused on oceanographic and biological factors affecting the growth and survival of juvenile pink and coho salmon entering the GOA from Southeast Alaska stocks. Scientists from NOAA/NMFS and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) are now using information from the monitoring program to develop prediction models for pink salmon returns to Southeast Alaska, and ADFG has incorporated SECM data into its current region wide forecast.

Through the GLOBEC Northwest Atlantic Program, and later, CSCOR's Synthesis and Forecasting program, links were identified between the North Atlantic Oscillation Index, deep water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine, and the abundance of the Gulf's dominant zooplankton species, Calanus finmarchicus. As a result of this research, the Northeast Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) has developed an operational system to predict the temperatures at Buoy N from the NAO and from the predicted or observed temperatures, to forecast Calanus abundance. From the Calanus data, the number of right whale births can also be predicted (details). This was a source of information for the NOAA contribution to the Smithsonian Ocean Web Portal, part of a new Ocean Hall exhibit.

Forecasts of Calanus distributions funded in the earliest years of the GLOBEC Northwest Atlantic program can be used to predict the distribution and abundance of Calanus in the Gulf of Maine using satellite data. The Calanus abundance maps are then used to estimate the presence of right whales in key habitats in the region. These satellite-based forecasts will also become operational through NERACOOS in spring 2008. The forecasts will provide analyses to NOAA's aerial survey team that will allow them to improve the efficiency and safety of their right whale surveys to assist in the conservation of this endangered species.

GLOBEC is recognized internationally as a source of information on fisheries and variability in oceanographic processes. Both the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) in the Atlantic, and its counterpart in the Pacific (PICES), have used GLOBEC scientists and results in responses to governmental requests for information. An example is a recent report for PICES on “Fisheries and Ecosystem Response to Recent Regime Shifts”. GLOBEC scientists also contributed greatly to the PICES Ecosystem Status Report.

Climate and its Ecological Impacts: [fishery] [integration] [modeling]

As a component of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), results from GLOBEC have been incorporated into USGCRP documents such as Our Changing Planet, an annual report on USGCRP research, and their 2006 report Ecosystems and Climate Change: Research Priorities for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. GLOBEC served as one of the few marine ecosystem research programs reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences Climate Board in their 2007 report Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: Methods and Preliminary Results. The report found that GLOBEC had led to improved documentation of the response of marine ecosystems to climate variability. The report also indicated that GLOBEC (and other research programs) had “increased understanding of the potential consequences of climate change for ecosystems, and attempts to use this information to guide ecosystem-based management of resources are beginning.”

GLOBEC has been one of the few programs to work on downscaling climate models to regional scales that can then be coupled to marine ecosystem models. A global climate model typically calculates and projects climate characteristics based on data at points on the globe roughly 180 miles apart. Many coastal features important to marine populations, such as marine banks and estuaries, are smaller than this and these models are unable to predict the effects of climate change in those regions. Model nesting techniques developed through GLOBEC can downscale large climate models to represent oceans and marine ecosystems with data points approximately two miles apart, a more appropriate scale to represent some of the important physical and ecological processes in coastal regions.

GLOBEC results from the field programs can also be extended and combined with other international programs in the Atlantic and the Pacific to examine basin-wide manifestations of climate variability and regime shifts. Since much of the variability seen in oceanic ecosystems is related to large-scale shifts in ocean productivity, the ability to predict and parameterize these changes will have significant impacts on management at the regional, national, and international levels. This is one focus of the final pan-regional synthesis phase of GLOBEC research.

Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs): [fishery] [climate] [modeling]

GLOBEC results have been instrumental in determining time and space scales for sampling within the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOSS) planning activities. In the Northeast Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), the Pacific Coast Ocean Observing System (PaCOOS), and Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), GLOBEC has provided long-term data series that help to determine where and when observations should be made. GLOBEC scientists serve on the steering committees, science teams, and boards of governors for these emerging regional systems.

GLOBEC supported the first installation, testing, and use of long-range surface High Frequency radars. This program showed that the systems were capable of mapping ocean surface currents from land to 150km offshore. Building on the southern Oregon array installed for GLOBEC, there is now near real-time current mapping along the entire Oregon coast, from southern Washington to northern California (details). Similar systems are being installed regionally around the whole U.S. coast (details). NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center is operating a demonstration project to gather these data from cooperating systems around the country (details). These systems contribute to the developing IOOS, with the aim of promoting safe marine navigation, monitoring variations in the circulation at time scales from tidal to interannual, and contributing measured currents to help guide data assimilative models.

Planning within NOAA for Integrated Ecosystem Assessments include initial geographic focus areas of the Northeast, the California Current, and the Gulf of Alaska. Without the models developed and the data collected during the regional GLOBEC programs, these areas would not be positioned as well for IEAs.

Modeling and Ecological Forecasting: [fishery] [climate] [integration]

GLOBEC has been a major source of funding for the development of physical models that can be coupled with ecological models. The most prominent of these physical models developed under GLOBEC funding has been the Regional Oceanic Modeling System (ROMS). ROMS is used around the world in coastal ocean applications (see the ROMS Users List). Within NOAA/NOS, ROMS is being used operationally by the Coast Survey Development Laboratory and the Center for Operational Ocean Products and Services in their implementation of some of the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS) activities. A coastal ocean forecasting system using ROMS has been developed for the Long-term Ecosystem Observatory on New Jersey’s inner shelf (LEO paper).

Another more recent development has been a new approach to modeling called the Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FV-COM). The model has been developed into a Northeast Coastal Ocean Forecasting System (NECOFS). Applications for this model include icing in the Gulf of Maine for the National Weather Service, sea surface currents for the Coast Guard (search and rescue) and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (water quality monitoring), seawater temperatures for the mackerel fishing industry, and sea level for storm surge forecasting. International interest has been expressed from China for environmental assessment of construction projects along the coast in China, and from South Korea for the storm surge forecast.

Scientists supported by GLOBEC are the world’s experts on coupled physical-ecological modeling, data assimilation, and in the methods of quantifying uncertainties in coupled physical-biological models that managers can use in decision-making. Through the support of a NCCOS workshop on model skill assessment, a peer-reviewed publication to come out in fall 2008 in the Journal of Marine Systems will outline various methods to quantify uncertainties in coupled models, and show examples of their use as applied to models in focus areas of harmful algal blooms, ecosystem dynamics, fisheries, and water quality.

GLOBEC investigators have been at the forefront of developing atmospheric indices for the Pacific. In addition to their general use in physical oceanography, these products have applications that include uses in climate monitoring, transport-based indices for fisheries/ecosystem, ocean natural mineral slick monitoring, and other areas such as marine aviation and transportation incident investigations, wind/wave power generation research, and education/outreach. The products are accessible through ftp, as well via inter-operable web-based data servers.