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Coupled Biological/Physical Models in the Coastal Ocean: Skill Assessment and Planning for Regional Testbed Projects

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July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2008

Dr. Dennis J. McGillicuddy, Jr.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543

Program Manager: Dr. Elizabeth Turner, NOAA

Related NOAA Strategic Plan Goal:
Goal 1. Protect, restore and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management.
Goal 2. Understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond.

Project Overview
The goal of this project is to provide the scientific and technical basis for quantitative evaluation of coupled physical-biological models relevant to NOAA’s Ecosystem Based Management activities.

We conducted an initial workshop in July, 2006 with practitioners drawn from carbon cycle, marine ecosystems, population dynamics, harmful algal bloom, and water quality modeling, as well as those interested in ecosystem-based management. Participants defined a set of papers to be composed for a refereed journal. A subset of participants planned a specific Model Intercomparison and Evaluation Project (MIEP). A second workshop in March, 2007 reconvened the participants to present the papers and synthesize the results. The MIEP working group prepared an implementation plan, and will contribute an accompanying paper.

The second workshop for Skill Assessment for Coupled Biological/Physical Models of Marine Systems was held at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill NC, March 6-8, 2007. The attendance list is posted on the project web site.

Most of the contributing teams from Workshop 1 were represented. There were two workshop goals:
• synthesize and coordinate submissions to a special issue of the Journal of Marine Systems (JMS)
• compile recommendations for NOAA and other interested parties. The web site ( ) will be maintained through project completion and holds the full record of workshops 1 and 2.

JMS Volume
The first 1.5 days were spent in plenary, as scheduled. These provided an update on progress of the papers in preparation and new results, many of which indicated significant and exciting cross-fertilization of ideas presented at the first workshop.
Three breakout sessions followed:
1. Data Assimilation
2. Metrics
3. Overview/outreach for a broader audience
Items 1 and 2 correspond to planned ‘cross-cut’ contributions to the JMS volume, and specific plans for coordinated completion of these manuscripts were committed to. Item 3 remains under discussion relative to audience and content. A fourth item ‘Vocabulary’ was suggested for discussion; participants did not elect discussion on this, with greater immediate interest in the above three topics. A cross-cut paper by editors on vocabulary was planned since the beginning as part of the front of the volume, and an early editors’ draft has been available throughout both workshops. It was decided to defer to editors in advancing this piece toward completion and review. A fifth item ‘Data Archive’ was not pursued. The plenary presentations and working group reports are recorded with the conference record.

Project timeline
The schedule for volume completion begins with submission now, directly to the guest editors. The guest editors will arrange for review, revision, and acceptance of individual papers beginning as soon as they are received. Once all parts of the volume are individually accepted, they will be transmitted as a whole to JMS for electronic and paper publication. The date for this bulk completion is April 1 ’08. It is anticipated that minimal delays will follow this deadline and all involved are committed to this date.

Commitments for ms submission were based on these good-faith estimates:
# date         # submissions
April 1         6
May 1        4
June 1        4
July 1        3
Aug 1        2

The cross-cut papers (Vocab, DA, Metrics) generally fall in this window of time. Authors and editors believe these are realistic relative to April 1 ’08 completion deadline.

Recommendations for NOAA
Ahead of the workshop, a set of nine questions (listed on the web site) were distributed as the basis of discussion on this topic, which took place during the final session of day 2.

Break-out groups were organized and conducted on day 3, in three areas:
1. HABs
2. Fisheries
3. Environment

Reports of these groups were made and are part of the conference record. Following the 3 breakout group presentations, the assembled workshop listed some common issues that emerged among them. Recommendations discussed included:

1. Facilitate access to real-time data streams. This would include networking, servers, and people.

2. Encourage ensemble modeling, specifically the use of an ensemble of different models.

3. Encourage the use of probabilistic model results – mean and variance – and the expression of this in simple ways to a general audience, backed by rigorous analysis. (The IPCC report is an example.)

4. Encourage the formalization of the prior – at the least, the mean and variance of all relevant quantities.

5. Always examine the posterior: a) the remaining misfit and b) the departure from the prior. There is information in both.

6. Recognize the importance of organizational structure. Encourage regional expertise in regional centers; and networking of these relative to technical and scientific generalities.
7. Do not separate data providers from modeling.

8. Similarly, do not separate physical modeling from biological modeling.

9. Encourage a blend of Government/University/Industrial activity.
10. Use the existing NOAA centers and cooperative programs to their fullest. There is much opportunity in these for cross-fertilization. Avoid new organizational structures if extant ones can be made to work.

The editors are composing a report to NOAA summarizing those recommendations.

As of August 29, 2007, 12 manuscripts have been submitted for publication. These are listed on a special issue web site:

Summary of Interaction with NOAA

There was active participation of NOAA scientists in the second workshop.

Summary of Education and Outreach Activity
None yet.

Last updated: August 19, 2008

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