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Scientists call for a new strategy for polar ocean observation
Date:6/17/2010

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MAIn a report published in this week's issue of Science, a team of oceanographers, including MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Ecosystems Center director Hugh Ducklow, outline a polar ocean observation strategy they say will revolutionize scientists' understanding of marine ecosystem response to climate change. The approach, which calls for the use of a suite of automated technologies that complement traditional data collection, could serve as a model for marine ecosystems worldwide and help form the foundation for a comprehensive polar ocean observation system.

The complexity of marine food webs and the "chronic under-sampling" of the world's oceans present major constraints to predicting the future of and optimally managing and protecting marine resources. "We know more about Venus than we do about the Earth's oceans," says Ducklow. "We need an ocean observation system analogous to meteorological monitoring for weather forecasting, but it's harder to do in the ocean."

In polar oceans in particular, including the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) where Ducklow and his colleagues conduct research as part of the NSF's Long-Term Ecological Research project at Palmer Station, high operation costs and harsh conditions restrict the coverage provided by research ships, where much of the data on this ecosystem is collected. To overcome these hurdles, oceanographers around the world have been developing technologies to complement traditional data collection by research ships. The coordinated use of these technologies will enable sustained observations throughout the year in the polar oceans and could form the foundation for a comprehensive observation strategy the team says.

In their report the scientists, led by Oscar Schofield of Rutgers University, describe a multi-platform approach to ocean observation, where data is collected by a host of automated sources including glider robots that measure ocean characteristic
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Contact: Gina Hebert
ghebert@mbl.edu
508-289-7725
Marine Biological Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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