WHOI Led Research Team Receives Funding to Develop Ocean Temperature Forecast System

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The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) was awarded a competive federal grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a forecast system that will predict seasonal and year-to-year changes in ocean temperatures on the Northeast U.S. Shelf. Other institutions involved in this project include Stony Brook University (SBU) and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in Woods Hole.

The Northeast shelf—home to a highly productive and commercially important marine ecosystem—is experiencing some of the highest warming rates in the world in recent decades.

"Changes in ocean temperature hugely impacts the living organisms in coastal waters," says Young-Oh Kwon, an assocate scientist in WHOI's  Physical Oceanography Department and lead investigator of the new project.

A WHOI team of researchers  will tailor the system to meet the needs of NOAA’s NEFSC and evaluate its use for NEFSC’s stock assessments, which help set annual catch limits to prevent overfishing. Current stock assessment forecasts are typically based on fish biology alone.

"An ability to reliably forecast the ocean temperature in coastal waters will benefit everyone in the coastal community, especially the fishing community through a significant improvement of the fisheries stock assessment,” says Kwon.

The federal grant was awarded in partnership from the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Science and Technology and NOAA Research’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections Program.

The newly funded project entitled, “Development and Evaluation of a Seasonal-to-Interannual Statistical Forecasting System for Oceanographic Conditions and Living Marine Resources on the Northeast U.S. Shelf” also includes WHOI co-investigators Ke Chen, Glen Gawarkiewicz, and Terry Joyce, in collaboration with Janet Nye from SBU and Paula Fratantoni, Jon Hare, Tim Miller, and Vincent Saba from NEFSC.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit www.whoi.edu.

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Atlantic herring (above) have been underharvested two years in a row in the northeast region, potentially due to warming-driven distribution changes. Source: NOAA