Observing and Measuring Ocean Changes for Improved Stewardship
Jeff Adkins1, Mary Glackin2, Jamie Kruse3, Tracy Rouleau3, Suzanne Skelley1, Zdenka Willis1
1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service
2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Deputy Under Secretary
3National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Program Planning and Integration
Contributions of the oceans and Great Lakes to our nation’s economy
· 125 thousand business establishments (1.5% of the U.S. total)
· 2.3 million employees (1.8% of the U.S. total)
· $63.9 billion in wages (1.3% of the U.S. total)
· $138 billion in Gross Domestic Product (1.2% of the U.S. total)
· Tourism and recreation is the largest single sector of the ocean economy, accounting for 75 percent of employment and 51 percent of GDP.However, tourism and recreation’s contribution to the economy per employee, $40,095, is much less than in other industries.
· The minerals sector lies at the other end of this spectrum contributing $655,772 per employee to the nation’s economy. .
· Commercial fisherman, together with seafood processors and dealers, seafood wholesalers and distributors, and seafood retailers, commercial fishing supported about 1.5 million full- and part-time jobs and generated $104 billion in sales impacts and $45 billion in income impacts.
· In 2008, there were approximately 12 million recreational anglers across the U.S. who took 85 million saltwater fishing trips around the country. These anglers spent $4.9 billion on fishing trips and $18 billion on durable fishing related equipment. These expenditures contributed $59 billion in sales impacts to the U.S. economy, generated $27 billion in value-added impacts, and supported over 384,000 jobs.
Understanding ocean and atmospheric change continues to be a significant challenge in ocean and science policy. Our oceans are important as they deliver significant social and economic value.Pressures resulting from demographic dynamics combined with climate variability and climate change draw attention to the need to observe and monitor our oceans. Sustained observing and monitoring capacities are the foundation to research to improve our understanding and to the development of tools to inform decision making in order to attain improved economic, public health and safety and quality of life outcomes. Linking and leveraging the observing systems that span the measurements of natural environment with the growing understanding of socio economic observations and then harnessing that information to be easily used by scientists, decision makers, and the public to influence our actions remains our ultimate goal.The National Ocean Policy of July 2010establishes a priority area for observations and establishes the framework for increased collaboration across Federal, state, regional, local, tribal, non-governmental organizations and private sector entities. Further observations provide the foundation for 6 of the 9 themes and without this information Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning can not be done. The National Ocean Policy also sets forth a Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) framework, and within the first 6-9 months must provide guidance regarding the development of a national information management system.
This theme will explore how observations, data, and the tools to disseminate that information can provide a critical foundation to inform decision-making, leading to improved stewardship of our global ocean resources.
Significance of our Oceans to Healthy Communities and Economies
Our oceans deliver significant social and economic value and the attachment we have to our oceans and Great Lakes can’t be valued monetarily. See side box for statistics. Expressed as a percentage of the total economy, the ocean-related economy seems small, but employment in this sector is twice the number directly engaged in agriculture.
Many of the natural amenities that make the coast an attractive place to livework and play can be enjoyed at no cost. For this reason, some of the value created by the ocean and Great Lakes is completely missing from the standard “market” data (e.g., jobs and wages). However, economic studies have been conducted to estimate the “nonmarket” contributions of the oceans and Great Lakes to our nation’s economy. One recent study estimated the nonmarket value of ocean and coastal resources exceeds $100 billion annually.
Citizens visiting our nation's beaches, for example, usually do not pay admission. The nonmarket value of this experience can be described as the amount these citizens would be willing to pay to visit these beaches. One study estimates this value at $11.98 to $84.49 per trip to North Carolina beaches. Likewise, views of and access to coastal and ocean environments can be a source of nonmarket value. Homes with unobstructed ocean and bay views can be sold for a price 70 percent to 200 percent higher than those without views.
In addition, there is increasing recognition that coastal and ocean environments provide a wide range of “ecosystem services.” For example, wetlands provide coastal storm protection, water filtration, and spawning grounds for commercially important fish. The value of wetland services in Louisiana has been estimated at $8,437 to $15,763 per acre.
While our current state of knowledge is incomplete, individual studies demonstrate significant monetary nonmarket value associated with coastal and ocean resources. For this reason, nonmarket values must be included in associated policy- and decision-making processes
Coastal Infrastructure at Risk [Jamie, can you add content here? Bullets indicate the thoughts, for benefit of others, that I think are intended for inclusion here; though, I defer to you, Jamie.]
· In addition to the value delivered by the oceans, another perspective is to examine the value of the infrastructure built along our coasts.
· This infrastructure is threatened by coastal hazards: inundation from storms, storm surge and sea level rise.
· To mitigate the risk of these coastal hazards, we need to sustain existing monitoring systems and add new measurements to understand ocean conditions and their coastal impacts. We need these measurements incorporated into tools and information appropriate for citizens and public policy decision-makers so that they are informed about choices regarding how we live, work and enjoy our coasts.
· With the changing conditions of our oceans, we need adequate baselines and the ability to monitor changes in human systems and the physical systems they depend on in order to exercise effective stewardship of our oceans, coasts and the ecosystem services they deliver.
Observation systems strengthen connections between humans and the environment.
The National Policy calls for communities to strength their resiliency and their abilities to adapt to climate change. The Policy calls out the Arctic as a special place and to enhance the water quality. Observations underpin each of these priority areas and following vignettes underscore this point.
Inundation of our coastal communities and ecosystems is a significant risk, independent of its cause: inland precipitation events, coastal storms, hurricane storm surge, coastal subsidence, rising sea level due to climate change or a combination of these phenomena. All sectors of our society have a stake in impacts due to climate change. Regional alliances of state governors are tackling impacts to their jurisdictions. Corporations are investing in risk assessments and strategy development. Local and state governments are collaborating with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and federal government agencies to understand the potential impacts and devise mitigation and adaptation strategies. Tools such as the Coastal County Snapshots, under Digital Coast, combine information about vulnerable populations, critical infrastructure and land converted to development within floodplains at the county level. This information is then used to assess how many people and buildings are at risk from flooding and the land’s capacity to continue to protect these facilities and populations from too much water.
Place holder picture, we can pick any location and we can determine that for geographic balance
A Tale of Oysters and Ocean Acidification
Shellfish and finfish industry representatives across the nation are increasingly concerned with what appear to be large-scale changes in our ecosystems with respect to water conditions. The west coast industry has been leading the way in trying to uncover the roots of the problem. Many in the industry are finding high correlations between mortality of oyster larvae and lower pH levels. They are also finding correlations between mortality and higher partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) levels in coastal waters. In 2005 along the west coast of the U.S., hatcheries and growers started noticing lower success rates for larval and adult oysters. The Pacific Shellfish Growers Association statistics show a 22% decline in production and 13% decline in gross sales of total shellfish (oysters, clams, geoduck, and mussels) produced on the west coast from 2005 to 2009. Shellfish contribute about 50% of total commercial fishery dockside revenue in Oregon and Washington, and about 60% in California. Aquaculture shellfish production accounts for 3,000+ jobs in coastal communities. So how can observing help this issue. The IOOS partner CenCOOS has developed indicates for growing conditions which are being consulted daily by local oyster growers.
Challenges Present in Alaska – The United States’ Footprint in the Arctic
Critical national issues are emerging in the Arctic, from environmental threats to economic opportunities to national security. Within the region, some economic sectors such as shipping, tourism, fishing, mining, and energy development potentially stand to gain from increased access to the Arctic due to loss of sea ice, even on a seasonal basis. However, these activities may compete with each other, conflict with existing uses, or place additional stresses on the environment.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF)currently observe the Arctic atmosphere and cryosphere from manned observatories at Barrow, Alaska, and Summit, Greenland. The United States also have operations in conjunction with many of our international partners in Canada, Norway, and Russia. NOAA performs weekly sampling at many locations to monitor global and high-latitude greenhouse gases to better understand the roles of clouds, aerosol, and radiation in controlling the Arctic climate. Satellites also monitor the Arctic, and now provide a nearly 30-year record of atmospheric temperature, humidity, clouds and surface properties. Satellite-based passive microwave, visible, infrared, and commercial Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images help to track the extent of the Arctic ice cover. The U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) regional partner - Arctic Ocean Observing System provides observation systems along the coastal Alaskan waters. In addition to weather and sea ice forecasts, NOAA has long been responsible for providing the Nation with nautical charts and oceanographic information for marine transportation, accurate positioning infrastructure, models, and tools that benefit all modes of transportation, and satellite search and rescue services.
So are we prepared to support operations in the Arctic? No! Current observation and monitoring efforts are too coarse to sufficiently meet user requirements and guide Arctic management decisions. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors provide the best sensing capability within the Arctic. Currently a combination of international and commercial sensors SAR satellites are available[Z1] . While they are great for analyzing the ice extent, they are limited in measuring sea ice thickness. As the Arctic becomes ice-free, increasing resolution of remote sensed observations will be needed to determine if the waters are truly ice-free or nearly ice-free. Higher resolution regional models are needed for guidance on climate change at scales important for planning, mitigating, and adapting. Finally, there are large gaps in tidal datum and tidal current prediction coverage, primarily due to lack of physical support infrastructure.Many ocean ecosystems variables are ready for sustained observations (e.g. nutrients, chlorophyll, oxygen, chemical tracers, plankton, benthos) while others (e.g. marine mammal populations and productivity) require further research to determine optimal observation approaches
Picture of Arctic Observing
Innovation to Address Harmful Algal Blooms
Many of our coastal communities are affected by blooms of harmful algal blooms or HABs. The occurrence, causes and research to forecast occurrence in order to more proactively warn about conditions conducive to HABs has been well documented for coastal areas in New England, along the Gulf of Mexico coast, along the US west coast, and in the Great Lakes. Over 20 different diatoms, dinoflagellates and cyanobacteria are known to have adverse impacts to human and marine ecosystems. Since the instigator organisms have different lifecycle behaviors and are detected by different means, each one must be studied and appropriate detection methods developed. For example, blooms of Karenia brevis, responsible for neurotoxic shellfish poisoning in the Gulf of Mexico, can be remotely sensed by satellite with in situ measurements to determine extent and to inform daily and 3-day forecasts. However, blooms of Alexandrium fundyense, responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning in the Gulf of Maine, cannot be detected by satellite remote sensing. Instead, new technologies and observing platforms are being developed. The Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) is one such technology, which permits near-real time automated detection of abundance of Alexandrium.One of these sensors was recently acquired by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) HAB group to work with the regional IOOS partner, Northeastern Regional Association for Coastal Ocean Observation System (NERACOOS) through funds from the Environmental Protection Agency and IOOS Program in NOAA. Through a NSF award to WHOI, five additional ESP sensors and the specialized moorings (with the necessary power, communication band width, and instrument stability) will also be available for deployment in the region. Understanding and responding to HABs and their impacts requires innovation and adaptive practices across the United States.
How do we Measure and Monitor?
In meeting the ocean information needs of users, the available types of data collection have resolution constraints, both spatial and temporal. Remote sensing by satellite provides global spatial coverage (multiple times per day) but is limited to surface observations through one of three means: thermal, visible and radar. In situ measurements using moored or fixed platforms provide near-continuous monitoring but only over limited spatial ranges. In situ mobile platforms, like gliders and autonomous underwater vehicles, offer the advantage of sampling over broader geographic ranges, in the water column, using sampling profiles which can be adjusted on a dynamic basis. All observing systems are costly, which is significant in a resource-limited environment, but advances in technology are making some observing technologies more affordable and are expanding the parameters we are able to measure.
The National Ocean Policy defined observing, mapping and infrastructure as an emphasis area. This area also included an important point when it outlines the emphasis to integrate Federal and non-Federal observations into a National and International system.
IOOS® is an end-to-end system that includes in situ and remote-sensing platforms, as well as other collection methods such as trawl surveys, undersea imagery, mobile sub-surface platforms and laboratory analysis of field samples and has the mandate to integrate the data from these disparate sources. The idea for a national integrated ocean observing system began with the passage of the Oceans Act of 2000. The Act created the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, which in 2004 recommended the establishment of the IOOS, which was authorized by the law, the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11). Participants in IOOS span sectors of Fed government, state, local & tribal government, academia, industry and NGOs and this community strongly believes that the new National Ocean Policy recommendation endorses the IOOS efforts over the past 9 years.
The Ocean Observatory Initiative (OOI) of the NSF, fully funded last year, is working to advance the ocean sciences by developing the infrastructure for sustained ocean observations at key coastal and open ocean locations. Two coastal arrays, four global arrays in the deep ocean, a cabled observatory over the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, and asophisticated cyberinfrastructure comprise the effort.
Projects such as Digital Coast Launched in 2008, is used to address timely coastal issues, including land use, coastal conservation, hazards, marine spatial planning, and climate change. This partnership network is building not only a website, but also a strong collaboration of coastal professionals intent on addressing coastal resource management needs.
The National Water Quality Monitoring Network is an integrated approach toaddressing a range of resourceissues, from upland watersheds tooffshore waters.
Exploring new technology horizons
In 1989 Hank Stommel published an article where he dreamed of fleets of unmanned gliders. While we have not gotten to the fleet stage we have in fact embarked on a path to get us to his vision. Today, many of the IOOS Regions and academic partners are beginning to make Glider operations routine. For example, long-endurance, autonomous gliders developed at the Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, have seen successful operation in an ice-covered environment, occupying a section across the wintertime Davis Strait. In 2009 Rutgers flew a glider across the Atlantic. Spending 7 months at sea, themission served as a major advancement for ocean data collection technology, allowing critical data collection in the middle of the ocean at lower cost and risk to human life than ever before. Scientists correlate these data with those from satellite imagery and altimetry and the data sent back directly improved the global oceanographic circulation model by showing that the model was predicting conditions that did not exist. Along the west coast of the United States, IOOS partners in California are using gliders to track spatial and temporal patterns of algal blooms and forecasting conditions of La Nina conditions. In the IOOS Mid-Atlantic Regional the gliders have been conducting regional surveys of the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) and in the past three years the glider fleet has conducted 22 missions spanning10,867 kilometers and collecting 62,824 vertical profiles of data.During the response to the Deepwater Horizon MC-252 spill, up to nine underwater gliders were routinely providing data about conditions in the water column to 1,000 meters for up to 100 days without interruption. The United States Navy awarded a contract to Teledyne Webb Research in 2009 to purchase 150 gliders which they will begin operating in the upcoming year.
We also exploring how to use animals as platforms for ocean sensors to help scientists better understand the organisms and the ocean environment. Animals can travel to regions and depths of the oceans we can’t necessarily get to, either physically or with equipment. By using animals to collect data, we can see their habitats through their eyes and get a more accurate picture about an animal’s behavior, foraging ‘hotspots’, key migration routes, and how these organisms interact with their ocean habitat.
A whole new class of wave gliders that use waves to power them on the ocean’s surface and new classes of unmanned vehicles leaves us the water’s edge to realize Hank Stommel’s vision.
The National Ocean Policy can lead to lasting solutions
So are we there yet, no! The vignettes provided in this article and the respective end to end observing systems such as IOOS, OOI, and NWQMN have all put into place the foundation for meeting the needs outlined in the National Ocean Policy. All of these systems have set up a means to obtain observations, integrate data and provide solutions for decision makers. These systems are national in nature and bring together the Federal and Non-Federal partners outlined in the National Ocean Policy. Projects such as Digital Coast focus on a specific issue and bring together some of the same groups to the table but extend to yet another set of non-Federal partners.
Many of the same players are involved in the observing systems outline above and work is ongoing to linking all of these efforts but this requires constant attention to make this collaboration work.In its capacity as the lead federal agency, the IOOS program in NOAA has made incremental investments in data management services, specifically a registry, catalog and viewer, with the result of expanding access to and use of data from Federal and non-Federal sources to a wider set of users. While IOOS has a broad mandate to integrate and delivery information across a broad spectrum of mission areas, the OOI and NWQMN are more focused in answering specific science questions and dealing with the issue of water quality, not the less all 3 programs have agreed to work together to bring a full observing capacity across the Federal and non-Federal partnership. Projects such as Digital Coast are meeting the needs of a group of stakeholders and is one of the first projects that brings together the socio economic information with the natural environment a critical linage. The intent between the program managers is there but realities of managing large projects with many resource sponsors and stakeholders make this difficult.
The Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, adopted by the President by Executive Order on July 19, 2010, form the basis of the Obama Administration’s National Ocean Policy. Calling out the need to integrate observations, mapping and infrastructure across Federal and non-Federal system gives us the opportunity to make real progress in monitoring our Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes.
Further, the integration of disparate information is not easy nor is it exciting but it must be done if we want to be able to truly plan along our coasts we are going to have to ensure we do not start again and not build off the foundation of the observing systems that are in place. The observing systems can not perform all the functions called out in CMPS but they certainly have set up data standards and protocols that can underpin the National Information System. Secondly each of these systems/projects have brought together State, Local, Tribal governments, academia and industry to focus on our issues along our Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes. Systems such as IOOS, OOI, NWQNM and projects such as Digital Coasts should be recognized by the new National Ocean Council.
We should not squander the opportunity that the National Ocean Policy and the momentum it is generating to really bring together the community focused on the problems we face at our Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes.
 "Nonmarket Value of the Coast." NOAA's State of the Coast. NOAA National Ocean Service, 24 Aug 2010. Web. 2 Sep 2010. <http://stateofthecoast.noaa.gov/coastal_economy/nonmarket
 Willis, Calder, An Integrated International Approach to Arctic Ocean Observations for Society, MAST Conference Oct 2009
 Integrated Ocean Observing System in Support of Forecasting Harmful Algal Blooms, Ann Jochens et al, Marine Technology Society Journal, Special Ocean Observing edition Nov/Dec 2010, submitted.