When Chris Melrose began his career at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center's Narragansett Laboratory, little did he realize where his work studying primary productivity and dissolved oxygen would lead. Now a member of the Center's Oceanography Branch, Melrose heads a long-term Ship of Opportunity Program (SOOP) that uses volunteer commercial cargo vessels as sampling platforms during their routine operations. Using an instrument, the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR), towed behind the ship, the SOOP program continues plankton surveys begun decades ago, but with a new global perspective and purpose.
In September 2011, Melrose represented NOAA and NEFSC at a meeting of the nine regional CPR surveys around the world to discuss the formation of a global program to routinely monitor changes in plankton patterns as an indication of the health of marine ecosystems.
The Global Alliance of Continuous Plankton Recorder Surveys, or GACS, was formed at that meeting in Plymouth, England: its primary goal to understand changes in plankton biodiversity at ocean basin scales through a global alliance of CPR surveys, like those done by NOAA and NEFSC.
"The idea is to work together to standardize our methods and contribute our data to a central repository or database that will make the data more accessible to potential users and more useful to the global scientific community," said Melrose. "Some of the participants already work together and share data, but having the global perspective will enable us to assess how changes and events at the local and regional level fit into the big picture, which is critical to understanding the impacts of climate change, ocean acidification and other phenomena that occur on a global scale."
GACS was formed during Plankton 2011, the celebration marking the 80th anniversary of the start of the North Sea CPR tows by Sir Alister Hardy, namesake of the instrument and the organization devoted to his vi
|Contact: Shelley Dawicki|
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center