CAFA Publications

Publications from CAFA funded projects. Sort by year, title, or project to view publications.

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Projected shifts in 21st century sardine distribution and catch in the California Current

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2021

Author(s): Fiechter, J., Buil, M.P., Jacox, M.G., Alexander, M.A. and Rose, K.A.


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: http://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.685241

Predicting changes in the abundance and distribution of small pelagic fish species in response to anthropogenic climate forcing is of paramount importance due to the ecological and socioeconomic importance of these species, especially in eastern boundary current upwelling regions. Coastal upwelling systems are notorious for the wide range of spatial (from local to basin) and temporal (from days to decades) scales influencing their physical and biogeochemical environments and, thus, forage fish habitat. Bridging those scales can be achieved by using high-resolution regional models that integrate global climate forcing downscaled from coarser resolution earth system models. Here, “end-to-end” projections for 21st century sardine population dynamics and catch in the California Current system (CCS) are generated by coupling three dynamically downscaled earth system model solutions to an individual-based fish model and an agent-based fishing fleet model. Simulated sardine population biomass during 2000–2100 exhibits primarily low-frequency (decadal) variability, and a progressive poleward shift driven by thermal habitat preference. The magnitude of poleward displacement varies noticeably under lower and higher warming conditions (500 and 800 km, respectively). Following the redistribution of the sardine population, catch is projected to increase by 50–70% in the northern CCS and decrease by 30–70% in the southern and central CCS. However, the late-century increase in sardine abundance (and hence, catch) in the northern CCS exhibits a large ensemble spread and is not statistically identical across the three downscaled projections. Overall, the results illustrate the benefit of using dynamical downscaling from multiple earth system models as input to high-resolution regional end-to-end (“physics to fish”) models for projecting population responses of higher trophic organisms to global climate change.

Changes to the structure and function of the albacore fishery reveal shifting social-ecological realities for Pacific Northwest fishermen

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2021

Author(s): Frawley, T.H., Muhling, B.A., Brodie, S., Fisher, M.C., Tommasi, D., Le Fol, G., Hazen, E.L., Stohs, S.S., Finkbeiner, E.M. and Jacox, M.G.


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12519

Marine fisheries around the globe are increasingly exposed to external drivers of social and ecological change. Though diversification and flexibility have historically helped marine resource users negotiate risk and adversity, much of modern fisheries management treats fishermen as specialists using specific gear types to target specific species. Here, we describe the evolution of harvest portfolios amongst Pacific Northwest fishermen over 35+ years with explicit attention to changes in the structure and function of the albacore (Thunnus alalunga, Scombridae) troll and pole-and-line fishery. Our analysis indicates that recent social–ecological changes have had heterogenous impacts upon the livelihood strategies favoured by different segments of regional fishing fleets. As ecological change and regulatory reform have restricted access to a number of fisheries, many of the regional small (<45 ft) and medium (45–60 ft) boat fishermen who continue to pursue diverse livelihood strategies have increasingly relied upon the ability to opportunistically target albacore in coastal waters while retaining more of the value generated by such catch. In contrast, large vessels (>60 ft) targeting albacore are more specialized now than previously observed, even as participation in multiple fisheries has become increasingly common for this size class. In describing divergent trajectories associated with the albacore fishery, one of the US West Coast's last open-access fisheries, we highlight the diverse strategies and mechanisms utilized to sustain fisheries livelihoods in the modern era while arguing that alternative approaches to management and licensing may be required to maintain the viability of small-scale fishing operations worldwide moving forward.

Management strategy evaluation: allowing the light on the hill to illuminate more than one species

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2021

Author(s): Kaplan, I.C., Gaichas, S.K., Stawitz, C.C., Lynch, P.D., Marshall, K.N., Deroba, J.J., Masi, M., Brodziak, J.K., Aydin, K.Y., Holsman, K. and Townsend, H


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: http:// https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.624355

Management strategy evaluation (MSE) is a simulation approach that serves as a “light on the hill” (Smith, 1994) to test options for marine management, monitoring, and assessment against simulated ecosystem and fishery dynamics, including uncertainty in ecological and fishery processes and observations. MSE has become a key method to evaluate trade-offs between management objectives and to communicate with decision makers. Here we describe how and why MSE is continuing to grow from a single species approach to one relevant to multi-species and ecosystem-based management. In particular, different ecosystem modeling approaches can fit within the MSE process to meet particular natural resource management needs. We present four case studies that illustrate how MSE is expanding to include ecosystem considerations and ecosystem models as ‘operating models’ (i.e., virtual test worlds), to simulate monitoring, assessment, and harvest control rules, and to evaluate tradeoffs via performance metrics. We highlight United States case studies related to fisheries regulations and climate, which support NOAA’s policy goals related to the Ecosystem Based Fishery Roadmap and Climate Science Strategy but vary in the complexity of population, ecosystem, and assessment representation. We emphasize methods, tool development, and lessons learned that are relevant beyond the United States, and the additional benefits relative to single-species MSE approaches.

Interannual Variability of the Mid‐Atlantic Bight Cold Pool

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2020

Author(s): Chen, Z., & Curchitser, E. N. 


Project PI: Curchister
DOI:

The Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) Cold Pool is a bottom-trapped, cold (temperature below 10°C) and fresh (practical salinity below 34) water mass that is isolated from the surface by the seasonal thermocline and is located over the midshelf and outer shelf of the MAB. The interannual variability of the Cold Pool with regard to its persistence time, volume, temperature, and seasonal along-shelf propagation is investigated based on a long-term (1958–2007) high-resolution regional model of the northwest Atlantic Ocean. A Cold Pool Index is defined and computed in order to quantify the strength of the Cold Pool on the interannual timescale. Anomalous strong, weak, and normal years are categorized and compared based on the Cold Pool Index. A detailed quantitative study of the volume-averaged heat budget of the Cold Pool region (CPR) has been examined on the interannual timescale. Results suggest that the initial temperature and abnormal warming/cooling due to advection are the primary drivers in the interannual variability of the near-bottom CPR temperature anomaly during stratified seasons. The long persistence of temperature anomalies from winter to summer in the CPR also suggests a potential for seasonal predictability.

Dynamical downscaling of future hydrographic changes over the Northwest Atlantic Ocean

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2020

Author(s): Shin, S., and Alexander, M. A. 


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: http://https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0483.1

Projected climate changes along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts were examined using the eddy-resolvingRegional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS). First, a control (CTRL) ROMS simulation was performed usingboundary conditions derived from observations. Then climate change signals, obtained as mean seasonalcycle differences between the recent past (1976–2005) and future (2070–99) periods in a coupled global cli-mate model under the RCP8.5 greenhouse gas trajectory, were added to the initial and boundary conditionsof the CTRL in a second (RCP85) ROMS simulation. The differences between the RCP85 and CTRLsimulations were used to investigate the regional effects of climate change. Relative to the coarse-resolutioncoupled climate model, the downscaled projection shows that SST changes become more pronounced nearthe U.S. East Coast, and the Gulf Stream is further reduced in speed and shifted southward. Moreover, thedownscaled projection shows enhanced warming of ocean bottom temperatures along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts, particularly in the Gulf of Maine and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The enhanced warming was relatedto an improved representation of the ocean circulation, including topographically trapped coastal oceancurrents and slope water intrusion through the Northeast Channel into the Gulf of Maine. In response toincreased radiative forcing, much warmer than present-day Labrador Subarctic Slope Waters entered the Gulf of Maine through the Northeast Channel, warming the deeper portions of the gulf by more than 48ºC.

An Numerical Model Analysis of the Mean and Seasonal Nitrogen Budget on the Northeast U.S. Shelf.

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2018

Author(s): Zhang. S., C. A. Stock, E. N. Curchitser, and R. Dussin


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: http://DOI:10.1029/2018JC014308

The supply of nitrogen is a primary limiting factor for the productivity of the Northeast United States (NEUS) continental shelf. In this study, a 12-year (1996–2007) retrospective physical-biogeochemical simulation over the Northwest Atlantic was used to analyze the mean and seasonal NEUS shelf nitrogen budget, including the connections between shelf subregions: the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank (GoM/GB), and the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB). The model captures the primary mean and seasonal patterns of shelf circulation, nitrate, and plankton dynamics. Results confirm aspects of previous nitrogen budget analyses, including the dominance of offshore nitrogen influxes into the GoM/GB and the prominent role of riverine influxes and sedimentary denitrification in the MAB. However, detailed spatiotemporal analysis of nitrogen fluxes highlights the importance of dispersed inflows of shallow to intermediate depth waters (0–75 m), which can at times exceed the deep nitrogen influx emphasized in previous studies. A seasonal analysis shows a pronounced shift from the net import of nitrogen to the GoM/GB region during late fall and winter, to the net export of nitrogen from the region in the spring and early summer. The MAB, in contrast, consistently exports nitrogen to offshore waters. The prominence of the 0-75m nitrogen supply has implications for the roles of Labrador Slope Water and Atlantic Temperate Slope Water on the NEUS ecosystems, as Atlantic Temperate Slope Water has greater nitrate concentrations than Labrador Slope Water at depth but often less at the surface. Results suggest the need for further study of shallow to intermediate depth inflows beyond those from the Scotian Shelf, particularly during the fall/winter of net nitrogen inflow.

Impacts of Mesoscale Eddies on the Vertical Nitrate Flux in the Gulf Stream Region

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2018

Author(s): Zhang, S., E.N. Curchitser, D. Kang, C.A. Stock and R. Dussin


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: http:// https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JC013402

The Gulf Stream (GS) region has intense mesoscale variability that can affect the supply of nutrients to the euphotic zone (Zeu). In this study, a recently developed high-resolution coupled physical-biological model is used to conduct a 25-year simulation in the Northwest Atlantic. The Reynolds decomposition method is applied to quantify the nitrate budget and shows that the mesoscale variability is important to the vertical nitrate supply over the GS region. The decomposition, however, cannot isolate eddy effects from those arising from other mesoscale phenomena. This limitation is addressed by analyzing a large sample of eddies detected and tracked from the 25-year simulation. The eddy composite structures indicate that positive nitrate anomalies within Zeu exist in both cyclonic eddies (CEs) and anticyclonic eddies (ACEs) over the GS region, and are even more pronounced in the ACEs. Our analysis further indicates that positive nitrate anomalies mostly originate from enhanced vertical advective flux rather than vertical turbulent diffusion. The eddy-wind interaction-induced Ekman pumping is very likely the mechanism driving the enhanced vertical motions and vertical nitrate transport within ACEs. This study suggests that the ACEs in GS region may play an important role in modulating the oceanic biogeochemical properties by fueling local biomass production through the persistent supply of nitrate.

On the Evaluation of Seasonal Variability of the Ocean Kinetic Energy

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2017

Author(s): Kang, Dujuan, and Enrique N. Curchitser


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: http://https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-17-0063.1

The seasonal cycles of the mean kinetic energy (MKE) and eddy kinetic energy (EKE) are compared in an idealized flow as well as in a realistic simulation of the Gulf Stream (GS) region based on three commonly used definitions: orthogonal, nonorthogonal, and moving-average filtered decompositions of the kinetic energy (KE). It is shown that only the orthogonal KE decomposition can define the physically consistent MKE and EKE that precisely represents the KEs of the mean flow and eddies, respectively. The nonorthogonal KE decomposition gives rise to a residual term that contributes to the seasonal variability of the eddies, and therefore the obtained EKE is not precisely defined. The residual term is shown to exhibit more significant seasonal variability than EKE in both idealized and realistic GS flows. Neglecting its influence leads to an inaccurate evaluation of the seasonal variability of both the eddies and the total flow. The decomposition using a moving-average filter also results in a nonnegligible residual term in both idealized and realistic GS flows. This type of definition does not ensure conservation of the total KE, even if taking into account the residual term. Moreover, it is shown that the annual cycles of the three types of EKEs or MKEs have different phases and amplitudes. The local differences of the EKE cycles are very prominent in the GS off-coast domain; however, because of the spatial inhomogeneity, the area-mean differences may not be significant.

Seasonal Variability Of The Gulf Stream Kinetic Energy

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2016

Author(s): Kang, D., E.N. Curchitser and A. Rosati


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-15-0235.1

The seasonal variability of the mean kinetic energy (MKE) and eddy kinetic energy (EKE) of the Gulf Stream (GS) is examined using high-resolution regional ocean model simulations. A set of three numerical experiments with different surface wind and buoyancy forcing is analyzed to investigate the mechanisms governing the seasonal cycle of upper ocean energetics. In the GS along-coast region, MKE has a significant seasonal cycle that peaks in summer, while EKE has two comparable peaks in May and September near the surface; the May peak decays rapidly with depth. In the off-coast region, MKE has a weak seasonal cycle that peaks in summer, while EKE has a dominant peak in May and a secondary peak in September near the surface. The May peak also decays with depth leaving the September peak as the only seasonal signal below 100 m. An analysis of the three numerical experiments suggests that the seasonal variability in the local wind forcing significantly impacts the September peak of the along-coast EKE through a local-flow barotropic instability process. Alternatively, the seasonal buoyancy forcing primarily impacts the flow baroclinic instability and is consequently related to the May peak of the upper ocean EKE in both regions. The analysis results indicate that the seasonal cycle of the along-coast MKE is influenced by both local energy generation by wind and the advection of energy from upstream regions. Finally, the MKE cycle and the September peak of EKE in the off-coast region are mainly affected by advection of energy from remote regions, giving rise to correlations with the seasonal cycle of remote winds.

Energetics Of Eddy-Mean Flow Interactions In The Gulf Stream Region

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2015

Author(s): Kang, D., and E.N. Curchitser


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-14-0200.1

A detailed energetics analysis of the Gulf Stream (GS) and associated eddies is performed using a highresolution multidecadal regional ocean model simulation. The energy equations for the time-mean and timevarying flows are derived as a theoretical framework for the analysis. The eddy–mean flow energy components and their conversions show complex spatial distributions. In the along-coast region, the cross-stream and cross-bump variations are seen in the eddy–mean flow energy conversions, whereas in the off-coast region, a mixed positive–negative conversion pattern is observed. The local variations of the eddy–mean flow interaction are influenced by the varying bottom topography. When considering the domain-averaged energetics, the eddy–mean flow interaction shows significant along-stream variability. Upstream of Cape Hatteras, the energy is mainly transferred from the mean flow to the eddy field through barotropic and baroclinic instabilities. Upon separating from the coast, the GS becomes highly unstable and both energy conversions intensify. When the GS flows into the off-coast region, an inverse conversion from the eddy field to the mean flow dominates the power transfer. For the entire GS region, the mean current is intrinsically unstable and transfers 28.26 GW of kinetic energy and 26.80 GW of available potential energy to the eddy field. The mesoscale eddy kinetic energy is generated by mixed barotropic and baroclinic instabilities, contributing 28.26 and 9.15 GW, respectively. Beyond directly supplying the barotropic pathway, mean kinetic energy also provides 11.55 GW of power to mean available potential energy and subsequently facilitates the baroclinic instability pathway.



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MERT Facilitates Enhanced Partnership Between NOAA CoastWatch and Sanctuaries

  • 24 November 2020
MERT Facilitates Enhanced Partnership Between NOAA CoastWatch and Sanctuaries

On November 18, CPO Marine Ecosystems Risk Team (MERT) member, Zac Cannizzo–holding a joint position with CPO and the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) Marine Protected Areas Center–led an internal sanctuary learning exchange to introduce sanctuary research and management staff to the satellite data portfolio of NOAA CoastWatch. The interactive webinar featured CoastWatch staff and focused on how the CoastWatch data, tools, and capabilities can be used to inform sanctuaries science and management, including climate change assessment and adaptation. The webinar spurred a discussion between CoastWatch and sanctuary science staff around how the tool and products shared could be leveraged for sanctuary use through enhanced partnerships. This webinar grew out of the needs identified during the Sanctuaries Virtual Climate Priorities Focus Groups that MERT organized and held in September. The fostering and development of partnerships to provide products such as this learning exchange is an important component of CPO’s growing partnership with ONMS to address the climate information needs of sanctuaries. The goal of the MERT initiative is to reinforce and expand the application of climate science in National Marine Sanctuaries activities to support NOAA’s Stewardship mission.

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