Tools and Data
The need for improved access to ocean observations for Pacific Island countries (PICs) and territories has been increasingly recognized over the last decade, particularly in the face of a changing climate. Although more remote sensing and in situ data are available than ever before, however, oceanographic, and marine forecasting expertise in the region is limited. To support capacity building in these areas, the Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac) has engaged with partners in the National Meteorological Services (NMS) and other relevant agencies in 14 Pacific Island nations, to identify priorities and to develop tools and training to address these needs. A key tool is the online Pacific Ocean Portal. With a focus on the Pacific Islands region, this website provides ocean data relevant to a range of sectors and applications such as tourism, fishing, shipping, coastal inundation, and environmental management. Via a user-friendly interface, the portal serves up data from a variety of sources including near real-time observations, historical information and forecast data. Training modules have been designed for portal users and delivery has gone hand-in-hand with in-country stakeholder engagement workshops, allowing sector users to make requests for ocean information products. Eight workshops have been delivered from November 2015 to June 2018, training a total of 97 NMS staff and 116 ocean sector stakeholders including port authorities, disaster management, tourism, fisheries, community leaders, and many more. As a result, five Pacific Island NMSs (Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, and Vanuatu) are now producing monthly Ocean Outlooks, guided by the needs of in-country stakeholders. Outlooks are tailored for each country and can include forecasts such as sea surface temperature, coral bleaching, and sea level, as well as information about current chlorophyll conditions, wind, and wave climate.
Observations of conditions at the ocean surface have been made for centuries, contributing to some of the longest instrumental records of climate change. Most prominent is the climate data record (CDR) of sea surface temperature (SST), which is itself essential to the majority of activities in climate science and climate service provision. A much wider range of surface marine observations is available however, providing a rich source of data on past climate. We present a general error model describing the characteristics of observations used for the construction of climate records, illustrating the importance of multi-variate records with rich metadata for reducing uncertainty in CDRs. We describe the data and metadata requirements for the construction of stable, multi-century marine CDRs for variables important for describing the changing climate: SST, mean sea level pressure, air temperature, humidity, winds, clouds, and waves. Available sources of surface marine data are reviewed in the context of the error model. We outline the need for a range of complementary observations, including very high quality observations at a limited number of locations and also observations that sample more broadly but with greater uncertainty. We describe how high-resolution modern records, particularly those of high-quality, can help to improve the quality of observations throughout the historical record. We recommend the extension of internationally-coordinated data management and curation to observation types that do not have a primary focus of the construction of climate records. Also recommended is reprocessing the existing surface marine climate archive to improve and quantify data and metadata quality and homogeneity. We also recommend the expansion of observations from research vessels and high quality moorings, routine observations from ships and from data and metadata rescue. Other priorities include: field evaluation of sensors; resources for the process of establishing user requirements and determining whether requirements are being met; and research to estimate uncertainty, quantify biases and to improve methods of construction of CDRs. The requirements developed in this paper encompass specific actions involving a variety of stakeholders, including funding agencies, scientists, data managers, observing network operators, satellite agencies, and international co-ordination bodies.
Measuring and monitoring the behavior and biomedical condition of free-ranging whales remains a fundamental challenge in cetacean science and conservation. Advances in unoccupied aerial systems (UAS) and infrared thermography (IRT) create unprecedented opportunities to fill these knowledge gaps and advance our understanding of how cetaceans interact with the environment. Here, we show that non-invasive UAS-IRT systems, deployed from shore-based positions in a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) calving ground, can be used to document rarely observed whale behaviors and to quantify biomedical vital signs, including blowhole and dorsal fin skin temperature, respiration rate, and heart rate. Our findings demonstrate: (1) prolonged (>3 h) logging behavior by a mother-calf pair located ∼550 m offshore; (2) that the calf’s respiration rate (∼3 breaths per minute) was six times higher than its mother’s (∼0.5 breaths per minute); (3) that the calf’s blowholes were ∼1.55°C warmer than adjacent ocean water and that the mother’s blowholes were ∼2.16°C warmer than adjacent ocean water; (4) that the mother’s dorsal fin included four infrared (IR) hot-spots, each separated by ∼20 cm in horizontal distance, that ranged between 1 and 2°C warmer than adjacent ocean water; (5) a significant (p <<0.05; wavelet analysis) temporal cyclicity in the hottest of the mother’s dorsal fin hot-spots consistent with cardiovascular blood flow pumped at an apneic heart rate of ∼9.3 beats per minute. Despite these novel results, there remain several key limitations to UAS-IRT, including its: sensitivity to environmental conditions and animal behavior; equipment costs and associated risks; potential regulatory restrictions; time-intensive nature of IR data processing; factors that can impact data quality, such as imaging angle and sensor accuracy. Future opportunities created by the UAS-IRT results we report center on the potential to couple non-invasive behavioral and physiological monitoring tools, quantify cetacean response to prolonged environmental change and acute disturbances, and extend UAS-IRT applications to cover a wider range of environmental and behavioral contexts. Considering the small sample size of the dataset we report, application of UAS-IRT to live-stranded and captive cetaceans, where environmental and cetacean conditions can be independently measured, is of paramount importance.
A major challenge in analysis of huge amounts of ocean data is the complexity of the data and the inherent complexity of ocean dynamic process. Interactive visual analysis serves as an efficient complementary approach for the detection of various phenomenon or patterns, and correlation exploring or comparing multiple variables in researchers daily work. Firstly, this paper presents a basic concept of ocean data produced from numerous measurement devices or computer simulations. The characteristics of ocean data and the related data processing techniques are also described. Secondly, the main tasks of ocean data analysis are introduced. Based on the main analysis tasks in ocean domain, the survey emphasizes related interactive visualization techniques and tools from four aspects: visualization of multiple ocean environmental elements and multivariate analysis, ocean phenomena identification and tracking, patterns or correlation discovery, ensembles and uncertainties exploration. Finally, the opportunities are discussed for future studies.
The present study aims to provide a conceptual framework to help practitioners to improve the quality of recreational waters near estuary, which may be affected by untreated wastewater from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). When CSOs are activated, the concentration of bacteria (e.g., Enterococci and E. coli) in estuary increases, thereby resulting in a potential health threat to swimmers. Here, the bacterial exposure is evaluated using physically-based stochastic model for contaminant transport, while human health risk is determined by Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA). Based on human health risk framework, we quantify the Carrying Capacity (CC) of the recreational water body. Such an indicator is defined as the number of swimming individuals that can be sustained in a beach resort with an acceptable risk threshold. The CC increases by dilution processes and by reduction of the source concentration, which in turn depends on the improvements in the sewage system. The presented approach can be a useful screening tool for policy-makers and other stakeholders, thereby providing a potential solution to the trade-off between economic development and the sustainable ecosystem in coastal areas.
The accelerating marks of climate change on coral-reef ecosystems, combined with the recognition that traditional management measures are not efficient enough to cope with climate change tempo and human footprints, have raised a need for new approaches to reef restoration. The most widely used approach is the “coral gardening” tenet; an active reef restoration tactic based on principles, concepts, and theories used in silviculture. During the relatively short period since its inception, the gardening approach has been tested globally in a wide range of reef sites, and on about 100 coral species, utilizing hundreds of thousands of nursery-raised coral colonies. While still lacking credibility for simulating restoration scenarios under forecasted climate change impacts, and with a limited adaptation toolkit used in the gardening approach, it is still deficient. Therefore, novel restoration avenues have recently been suggested and devised, and some have already been tested, primarily in the laboratory. Here, I describe seven classes of such novel avenues and tools, which include the improved gardening methodologies, ecological engineering approaches, assisted migration/colonization, assisted genetics/evolution, assisted microbiome, coral epigenetics, and coral chimerism. These are further classified into three operation levels, each dependent on the success of the former level. Altogether, the seven approaches and the three operation levels represent a unified active reef restoration toolbox, under the umbrella of the gardening tenet, focusing on the enhancement of coral resilience and adaptation in a changing world.
Fisher's knowledge offers a valuable source of information to run parallel to observed data and fill gaps in our scientific knowledge. In this study we demonstrate how fishers' knowledge of historical fishing effort was incorporated into an Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) model of the Irish Sea to fill the significant gap in scientific knowledge prior to 2003. The Irish Sea model was fitted and results compared using fishing effort time-series based on: (i) scientific knowledge, (ii) fishers' knowledge, (iii) adjusted fishers' knowledge, and (iv) a combination of (i) and (iii), termed “hybrid knowledge.” The hybrid model produced the best overall statistical fit, capturing the biomass trends of commercially important stocks. Importantly, the hybrid model also replicated the increase in landings of groups such as “crabs & lobsters” and “epifauna” which were poorly simulated in scenario (i). Incorporating environmental drivers and adjusting vulnerabilities in the foraging arena further improved model fit, therefore the model shows that both fishing and the environment have historically influenced trends in finfish and shellfish stocks in the Irish Sea. The co-production of knowledge approach used here improved the accuracy of model simulations and may prove fundamental for developing ecosystem-based management advice in a global context.
To assess fishing effects on data-poor species, impact can be derived from spatial overlap between species distribution and fishing effort and gear catchability. Here, we enhance the existing sustainability assessment for fishing effect method by estimating gear efficiency and heterogeneous density from sporadic catch data. We apply the method to two chondrichthyan bycatch species, Bight Skate and Draughtboard Shark in Australia, to assess cumulative fishing mortality (Fcum) from multiple fisheries. Gear efficiency is estimated from a Bayesian mixture distribution model and fish density is predicted by a generalized additive model. These results, combined with actual fishing effort, allow estimation of fishing mortality in each sector and subsequently, the Fcum. Risk is quantified by comparing Fcum with reference points based on life history parameters. When only the point estimates were considered, our result indicates that for the period 2009 and 2010 Bight Skate caught in 14 fisheries was at high cumulative risk (Fcum ≥ Flim) while Draughtboard Shark caught by 19 fisheries was at low cumulative risk (Fcum ≤ Fmsy). Because of the high cost of conducting cumulative risk assessments, we recommend examining the distribution of fishing effort across fisheries before carrying out the assessments.
A major challenge for managing impacts and implementing effective mitigation measures and adaptation strategies for coastal zones affected by future sea level (SL) rise is our limited capacity to predict SL change at the coast on relevant spatial and temporal scales. Predicting coastal SL requires the ability to monitor and simulate a multitude of physical processes affecting SL, from local effects of wind waves and river runoff to remote influences of the large-scale ocean circulation on the coast. Here we assess our current understanding of the causes of coastal SL variability on monthly to multi-decadal timescales, including geodetic, oceanographic and atmospheric aspects of the problem, and review available observing systems informing on coastal SL. We also review the ability of existing models and data assimilation systems to estimate coastal SL variations and of atmosphere-ocean global coupled models and related regional downscaling efforts to project future SL changes. We discuss (1) observational gaps and uncertainties, and priorities for the development of an optimal and integrated coastal SL observing system, (2) strategies for advancing model capabilities in forecasting short-term processes and projecting long-term changes affecting coastal SL, and (3) possible future developments of sea level services enabling better connection of scientists and user communities and facilitating assessment and decision making for adaptation to future coastal SL change.