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NCCOS Projects at the Forefront of Numerical Estuarine Modeling

Published on: 04/14/2016

Scientists’ use of simulation models has increased during the past several decades as a widely accepted tool for investigations into estuarine dynamics. A recently published scientific review paper, authored by NCCOS-sponsored scientists,outlines the progress and accomplishments of coupled hydrodynamic-ecological estuarine modeling. ManyNCCOS-sponsored foundational modeling studies are featured in the review paper.

Findings showthat while most models require scientific expertise to operate, the trend is a more user-friendly model that can be used bymanagers and stakeholders and that includes scenario analysis capabilities(“what if” situations). Users would like a shared ownership of the model that allows independent operation. Models are also being used in all levels of classrooms as educational tools, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses. NCCOS research contributes to the advancement of these useful models and supports the user-friendly applicationsencouraged by the review paper.

A 'rosette' of Niskin bottles is used to collect water samples at discrete depths for measurement of water quality conditions such as dissolved oxygen, nutrients, and phytoplankton species richness; data that forms the basis of ecological models and model evaluation. Credit N. Rabalais, LUMCON

A ‘rosette’ of Niskin bottles is used to collect water samples at specifidepths for measurement of water quality conditions such as dissolved oxygen, nutrients, and phytoplankton species richnesswhich are usedasthe basis of ecological models and model evaluation. Credit N. Rabalais, LUMCON

The article concludes with seven recommendations:

  1. While the modeling trend moves towards increased resolution and complexity, economical models of intermediate complexity become more usefultostakeholders and educators;
  2. Modelers evaluate and test models against theory and observations, rather than relying on other models as truth;
  3. Next generation training for researchers include cross-disciplinary training and skill development in both observational and modeling techniques;
  4. Funding resources directed to develop and maintain long-term, spatially comprehensive observational databases using accepted data standards;
  5. Increased development of ensemblemodels that includevarying spatiotemporal resolution and ecological/biogeochemical complexity where relevant for management and education uses;
  6. Researchers aim to translate state-of-the-art models into user-accessible, decision-support tools for managers and other stakeholders as appropriate;
  7. Models integrated into educational activities to increase the public’s fluency in modeling and serve as a recruiting tool for students into STEM fields.

Some of the important papers cited in the paper derived from NCCOS sponsored research projects are:

Project: Scenarios and Tradeoffs: Providing Useful Models to Coastal Managers

Project: Integrated Ecosystem Modeling of the Causes of Hypoxia

Project: Modeling Hypoxia and Ecological Responses to Climate and Nutrients

Project: Observations and Modeling of Narragansett Bay Hypoxia and its Response to Nutrient Management

Project: Mechanisms Controlling Hypoxia – Integrated Causal Modeling of the Oceanographic Processes that Cause the Dead Zone in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Project: EcoCheck: NOAA and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Partnership

  • Chesapeake Bay Summer Forecast: 2014

For more information, contact Rob Magnien.

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