Pacific Ocean observation programs: Gaps in ecological time series
How well do existing ocean observation programs monitor the oceans through space and time? A meta-analysis of ocean observation programs in the Pacific Ocean was carried out to determine where and how key parameters defining the physics, chemistry, and biology of the oceans were measured. The analysis indicates that although the chemistry and physics of the Pacific Ocean are reasonably well monitored, ecological monitoring remains largely ad hoc, patchy, unsystematic, and inconsistent. The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), for example, is the only Pacific Ocean program in which the zooplankton and micronekton are resolved to species with consistent time series of greater than 20 years duration. Several studies now indicate massive changes to nearshore, mesopelagic and other fish communities of the southern California Current but available time series do not allow these potential changes to be examined more widely. Firm commitment from the global community to sustained, representative, quantitative marine observations at the species level is required to adequately assess the ecological status of the oceans.