US Agencies to Monitor Marine Biodiversity
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have joined together to support three demonstration projects that will lay the foundation for the first national network to monitor marine biodiversity at scales ranging from microbes to whales.
The projects, to be funded at approximately USD 17 million over the next five years, will demonstrate how a national operational marine biodiversity observation network could be developed. Such a network would serve as a marine resource management tool to conserve existing biodiversity and enhance U.S. biosecurity against threats such as invasive species and infectious agents.
The three demonstration marine biological observation networks will be established in four locations: the Florida Keys; Monterey Bay and the Santa Barbara Channel in California; and on the continental shelf in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska.
Marine biodiversity is a key indicator of ocean health and critical to sustaining natural resources such as fisheries. The three projects, selected from 19 proposals, will be established in different marine environments in U.S. waters to integrate existing observations ranging from satellite observations to DNA sampling and fill data gaps with new observations.
“We now have large amounts of biologically relevant information on marine ecosystems, including global observations of ocean color and sea surface temperature from space,” said Woody Turner, manager of NASA’s Biodiversity Research Program. “But we need a more effective way of combining different types of information to get a better picture of how marine ecosystems are changing if we are to sustain these important ecosystem resources.”
An integrated picture of what is happening to marine biodiversity enhances the ability of policy makers and natural resource managers to devise effective strategies to address ecosystem threats from pollution and climate change.
The networks will integrate data on large-scale sea surface conditions observed by NASA, NOAA, and U.S. Geological Survey satellites with observations made in the ocean and the laboratory.