Organization: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Research Title: Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics (GLOBEC)

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 5.2
FY95 6.7
FY96 7.4

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Research Subcommittee (100%) NSTC Committee on Fundamental Science
(b) Environmental Issue: Large-scale Changes in Ocean Ecosystems (70%); Natural Variability (30%)
(c) Research Activity: System Structure and Function: Understand (100%)

Organizational Component:
Division of Ocean Sciences
NSF, Biological Oceanography Program
OCE/NSF, Room 725
4201 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22230

Point of Contact:
Philip Taylor
Phone: 703-306-1587
E-Mail: prtaylor@nsf.gov

Research Goals:
GLOBEC's purpose is to determine the impact of global climate change on marine ecosystems, specifically mechanisms that determine the variability of marine animal populations, which will permit assessments and predictions of population changes of living resources from coral reefs to fish stocks in a changing environment.

Research Description:
Marine animal populations can exhibit huge oscillations on time scales from seasonal to decadal. The dramatic example of the anchoveta off Peru helped form the basis for our understanding of how climate processes of the atmosphere and ocean, i.e., ENSO, work to control ocean circulation, temperature, rainfall and the important marine resources of the region. GLOBEC models of ecosystem dynamics and physical/biological interactions will link with physical models developed in WOCE and TOGA to predict population, and ecosystem responses. Ecosystem accommodation of global changes, and the role of species shifts vs. evolutionary changes in this process will vary with the type and intensity of the changing environmental factors, such as changes in meso- to basin-scale circulation, elevated temperatures, relative importance of ocean physical structures (fronts, eddies, vertical stratification). Understanding these features and their influence on populations, their prey, predators, and competitors, both singly and in composite will provide the framework for predicting responses to global change.

Program Interfaces:
GLOBEC is a NSF/NOAA program; ONR is a partner in technology development. GLOBEC grew out of community workshops and recommendations of an NAS report. GLOBEC is the U.S. component of the IOC, SCOR/ICSU, ICES, PICES sponsored international GLOBEC program with 10 national programs established. International cooperation has been instrumental in the U.S. regional programs, in particular the Cod and Climate Change program of ICES and Southern Ocean research. GLOBEC 's first focus on the NW Atlantic ecosystem stems from strong evidence of ecosystem response to large scale climate change. This is the U.S. part of the pan-N. Atlantic ICES program. Other GCRP programs (WOCE, NOAA's ACCP) will provide physical data sets and models. Ongoing NOAA-NMFS ecosystem programs, the Canadian OPEN program and ICES activities contribute resources to the problem. Predicting marine animal populations dynamics is an absolutely fundamental requisite for other GCRP goals, e.g., JGOFS predictions of biogeochemical fluxes in the ocean will eventually require a the prediction of animal population dynamics. Results from GLOBEC and JGOFS will be coupled to predict how the variability in animal populations and communities will change the function of the biological pump and the 9: Program Milestones Implementation and completion of an international biological-physical field program in the North Atlantic by the end of 1996; (2) implementation of field programs focusing on the California Current in 1996, (3) completion of planning of a Southern ocean field program to be implemented in 1998 and (4) expansion of long time-series observations using the continuous plankton recorder survey to these areas to complement process studies.

Policy Payoffs:
A much enhanced understanding of the factors that control populations and production in marine ecosystems is essential to provide predictions and assessments of effects of climate change on marine ecosystems. It is essential for the preservation and utilization of living resources in the sea, but also because marine animals are pivotal in shaping ocean ecosystems and in cycling biogenic materials. The ecological settings of GLOBEC's currently planned studies (e.g., NW Atlantic, California Current, Southern Ocean) harbor major marine resources that must be managed by NOAA , industry, and international counterparts. GLOBEC programs will deal directly with issues of the role of biodiversity in the target marine systems and how diversity is likely to be altered in marine systems.