“Being able to predict future phytoplankton blooms, ocean temperatures and low-oxygen events could help fisheries managers,” said Samantha Siedlecki, a research scientist at the UW-based Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean.
“This is an experiment to produce the first seasonal prediction system for the ocean ecosystem. We are excited about the initial results, but there is more to learn and explore about this tool – not only in terms of the science, but also in terms of its application,” she said.
In January, when the prototype was launched, it predicted unusually low oxygen this summer off the Olympic coast. People scoffed. But when an unusual low-oxygen patch developed off the Washington coast in July, some skeptics began to take the tool more seriously. The new tool predicts that low-oxygen trend will continue, and worsen, in coming months.
“We’re taking the global climate model simulations and applying them to our coastal waters,” said Nick Bond, a UW research meteorologist. “What’s cutting edge is how the tool connects the ocean chemistry and biology.”
Bond’s research typically involves predicting ocean conditions decades in advance. But as Washington’s state climatologist he distributes quarterly forecasts of the weather. With this project he decided to combine the two, taking a seasonal approach to marine forecasts.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration funded the project to create the tool and publish the two initial forecasts.
“Simply knowing if things are likely to get better, or worse, or stay the same, would be really useful,” said collaborator Phil Levin, a biologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center.
Early warning of negative trends, for example, could help to set quotas.
“Once you overharvest, a lot of regulations kick in,” Levin said. “By avoiding overfishing you don’t get penalized, you keep the stock healthier and you’re able to maintain fishing at a sustainable level.”
JISAO Seasonal Coastal Ocean Prediction of the Ecosystem
The tool is named the JISAO Seasonal Coastal Ocean Prediction of the Ecosystem, which the scientist dubbed J-SCOPE. It’s still in its testing stage. It remains to be seen whether the low-oxygen prediction was just beginner’s luck or is proof the tool can predict where strong phytoplankton blooms will end up causing low-oxygen conditions, Siedlecki said.
The tool uses global climate models that can predict elements of the weather up to nine months in advance. It feeds those results into a regional coastal ocean model developed by the UW Coastal Modeling Group that simulates the intricate subsea canyons, shelf breaks and river plumes of the Pacific Northwest coastline. Siedlecki added a new UW oxygen model that calculates where currents and chemistry promote the growth of marine plants, or phytoplankton, and where those plants will decompose and, in turn, affect oxygen levels and other properties of the ocean water.
The end product is a nine-month forecast for Washington and Oregon sea surface temperatures, oxygen at various depths, acidity, and chlorophyll, a measure of the marine plants that feed most fish. Coming this fall are sardine habitat maps. Eventually researchers would like to publish forecasts specific to other fish, such as tuna and salmon.
The researchers fine-tuned their model by comparing results for past seasons with actual measurements collected by the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, or NANOOS. The UW-based association is hosting the forecasts as a forward-looking complement to its growing archive of Pacific Northwest ocean observations.
Siedlecki’s analyses suggest the new tool is able to predict elements of the ocean ecosystem up to six months in advance.
Researchers will present the project this year to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the regulatory body for West Coast fisheries, and will work with NANOOS to reach tribal, state, and local fisheries managers.
If the forecasts prove reliable, they could eventually be part of a new management approach that requires knowing and predicting how different parts of the ocean ecosystem interact.
“The climate predictions have gotten to the point where they have six-month predictability globally, and the physics of the regional model and observational network are at the point where we’re able to do this project,” Siedlecki said.
For more information, contact Siedlecki at 206-616-7328 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Bond at 206-526-6459 or email@example.com.
Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta
Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy