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MERT to Continue Partnership with Sanctuaries and NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment in FY 2021


CPO’s Marine Ecosystem Risk Team (MERT) announced it will continue its “Science for Sanctuaries” partnership with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) and Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) program in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. Dr. Zachary (Zac) Cannizzo, a former Knauss Fellow, will continue his role as the Visiting Climate Scientist, jointly supported by ONMS and CPO. As the Visiting Climate Scientist, Zac works to support the development of cross-line office research priorities to address ONMS climate information needs and enhance climate change assessment, adaptation, and management actions across the National Marine Sanctuary System. 

Among other accomplishments, in FY 2020 Zac produced summaries of climate impacts for each national marine sanctuary, developed and led three learning exchanges to aid on-site staff and administration in incorporating climate change considerations into their work, and organized five round tables to identify sanctuary climate information needs. In January, Zac and MERT’s team lead also organized a successful workshop bringing together over 130 participants from across ONMS, NOAA Research, NOAA headquarters programs, and external partners to advance sanctuary climate information and science needs. 

In FY 2021, Zac will continue to support the climate needs of ONMS and the development of coastal ocean indicators that support climate assessments in sanctuaries, as well as build on the success of the MERT workshop to advance climate science in sanctuaries through cross-line office partnerships and funding opportunities. MERT will also strengthen relationships between the expertise and experience at NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information and the IEA program as they stand up their coastal ocean indicators web portal. 

The Visiting Climate Scientist role and the activities that the position supports are key to achieving the overarching goal of the MERT initiative. MERT aims to increase collaboration between ONMS and other NOAA labs and programs, as well as individual sanctuaries,to advance NOAA’s stewardship mission. 

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