PROGRAM TITLE: Marine Ecosystem Response (U.S. GLOBEC) ACTIVITY STREAM: Process Research; (Modelling; Observation & Data Management) SCIENCE ELEMENT:
Ecological Systems and Dynamics DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATIONDESCRIPTION: Climate related environmental changes may substantially alter marine ecosystems and living resource abundances. The primary focus of the NOAA Marine Ecosystem Response (MER) program is U.S.GLOBEC (GLOBal ocean ECosystem dynamics), an interagency research initiative organized by academic and government oceanographers and fisheries scientists. U.S.GLOBEC will assess and predict how changes in climate will affect the abundance and production of marine animals (primarily zooplankton and commercially-important fish populations) through an understanding of the physical and biological processes that control variations in population abundance in time and space. This will require an improved understanding of the response of ocean physics to climatic forcing, of interactions between physical and biological processes, and of long-term ecosystem structure through modeling, retrospective data analysis, field studies and long-term observations. Work began in 1992 with preliminary field studies and modeling -- this activity has shown how climate variables (e.g., winds, heating, stratification, and storms) affect coastal circulation patterns and abundances of planktonic animals. In 1994 we begin modelling and process studies of the effects of changes in coastal circulation on zooplankton, codfish and haddock population dynamics on Georges Bank. Work on zooplankton, sardines and hake in the California Current and their response to ENSO events are planned for 1996, and zooplankton, fish, birds and mammals in the Antarctic for 1997. Decadal scale variability (20-50 year cycles) in plankton and fish abundance in the Pacific (copepods, salmon, sardine and hake) and Atlantic (copepods, cod) will be more fully studied using paleoceanographic data. In addition to U.S.GLOBEC activities, MER will initiate in 1994 a modest program directed at the early detection of climate change. This new activity, the Harbinger program, will identify sensitive biological indicator species that could be monitored easily for responses to changing climate. Initially, we will look at possible connections between declining health of coral ecosystems and changes in basin-scale climate. Later work will include plankton and fish species that are strongly influenced by changes in water types or current systems. STAKEHOLDERS: U.S.GLOBEC is jointly managed by NSF and NOAA. It is the U.S. component of the IOC, SCOR/ICSU, ICES, PICES sponsored International GLOBEC with 10 national programs established. The Georges Bank studies involve 73 scientists from the U.S. and Canada and is coordinated with the Gulf of Maine Regional Research Program and NOAA Coastal Ocean Program. We are part of the five nation ICES/GLOBEC Cod and Climate Change North Atlantic study and partially support the Continuous Plankton Recorder program (U.K.) for monitoring plankton in the NW Atlantic. ENSO related studies will aid the IRICP to assess the economic impacts of ENSO events. GLOBEC models of population dynamics will be linked with WOCE, TOGA and ACCP physical models to predict ecosystem response to climate change. Technological developments made by GLOBEC, and coral reef monitoring activities will form a basis for the International GOOS (Global Ocean Observing System) Living Resources Module. SHORT-TERM POLICY PAYOFFS: GLOBEC is the only major program that will assess the response of marine ecosystems to climate change. Modelling and process research will assess seasonal-to-interannual variability; analysis of long-term data sets and paleoceanographic work will assess the relative importance of natural vs. anthropogenic change on marine animal populations. Both scales of assessments are needed by policy makers involved with implementing the Federally-mandated Magnuson Fisheries Management Act, Marine Mammals Protection Act, and Endangered Species Act. GLOBEC study sites in the NW Atlantic, California Current and Antarctic contain rich marine resources that must be managed by NOAA and other international bodies such as CCAMLR. PROGRAM CONTACT: Dr. C. Mark Eakin; NOAA/GP, 1100 Wayne Ave., Suite 1225, Silver Spring, MD, 20910-5603; 301-427-2089 x710 (voice); 301-427- 2073 (fax); M.Eakin (OMNET).