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 ADMINISTRATION
 

DESCRIPTION:  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).