Observing Systems and Ecosystem Management

Full Title: Evaluation of Gulf of Mexico oceanographic observation networks impact assessment on ecosystem management and recommendation

Lead Investigator (Institution): Matthieu Le Hénaff (Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami) mlehenaff@rsmas.miami.edu

Co-investigators (Institution): Villy Kourafalou (University of Miami), Frank Muller-Karger (University of South Florida), and Luke McEachron (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

NOAA Technical Point of Contact: Frank Parker (frank.parker@noaa.gov)

Award Amount: $398,812

Award Period: September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2017

Summary: This project will assess Gulf of Mexico observation networks from an ecosystem management perspective, based on an approach that has been successfully used to assess the capacity of ocean observing networks to effectively monitor ocean circulation. Specifically, the investigators will 1) assess the performance of existing observation networks to monitor the Gulf of Mexico from an ecosystem monitoring and management perspective, expanding the rigorous observing system evaluation approach implemented for physical oceanography monitoring;  2) investigate the connections between ocean physics, biogeochemistry and ecosystem dynamics; and 3) make recommendations to improve existing observing networks to address particular resource management objectives. The investigators will use existing ocean circulation and biogeochemical models, as well as observations of ocean circulation, chemistry, and biology from satellites and existing observing platforms in the water. The study will partner with resource managers and experts on the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys to quantify the impact of specific observations on regional ecosystem models to evaluate how existing networks are useful for ecosystem management, as well as for identifying observational gaps. An important project outcome will be recommendations on how to improve observing networks in the Gulf of Mexico to better support resource management.