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Joyce, Evans Give Testimony on Oceans to Congress

WHOI scientists Rob Evans and Terry Joyce testified June 8 before the House Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans, chaired by Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) in a continuing effort to help educate the U.S. House of Representatives on the oceans.

“While many understand that the ocean supports diverse marine species,” said Rep. Gilchrest in his opening statement, “it may not be as obvious how the Earth’s climate is affected by ocean circulation patterns or, in turn, ocean circulation is affected by the geology of the ocean floor. Everything in this ‘terrarium’ is ultimately intertwined....This subcommittee is doing its part to promote oceans today by highlighting ocean science.”

Evans, an associate scientist in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, and Joyce, a physical oceanographer and director of the WHOI Ocean and Climate Change Institute, each presented highlights of their fields and left behind written testimony.

Evans described interactions between the seafloor and oceans, from the deep sea to the coastal ocean. He covered tsunamis; the effects of sea level rise and other processes on shoreline erosion; and seafloor features from mid-ocean ridges and seamounts and their distinctive biological communities to deep-sea vents and their unique interplay of geologic, chemical, and biological processes. He also mentioned methane hydrates—a vast potential energy resource on the continental shelf—and other marine economic resources.

Joyce highlighted ocean-atmospheric oscillations in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and their far-reaching effects on weather patterns and fisheries; the roles of the Gulf Stream and the global ocean circulation system in long-term and abrupt climate change; and the ocean’s role in hurricanes.

The WHOI scientists joined five other scientists in giving testimony on topics that included marine mammal research, harmful algal blooms, and the structure and function of marine ecosystems. The audience included congressional staffers, members of other federal agencies, the public, and the media.

“This was a basic fact-finding hearing,” said Terry Schaff, WHOI director of government relations. “Our participation not only demonstrates our leadership in these areas, we hope the session also leaves members and staffers better-educated about the oceans.”

Terry Joyce (left) and Rob Evans testify before Congress. (Photo courtesy of Photo Op)