Title: FINAL SYNTHESIS OF THE U.S. GLOBEC NORTHWEST ATLANTIC/GEORGES BANK PROGRAM: The impact of oceanographic and climate-related processes on the dynamics of plankton and fish populations on Georges Bank.


The U.S. Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) Northwest Atlantic study of Georges Bank is a component of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, with the goals of understanding and ultimately predicting how populations of marine animal species respond to natural and anthropogenic changes in global climate. U.S. GLOBEC is also the U.S. component of the GLOBEC International program, a core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, with co-sponsorship from the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. This notice is under the auspices of the U.S. GLOBEC program within NSF/OCE and the regional ecosystem studies and U.S. GLOBEC initiatives of NOAA’s COP.

The GLOBEC Northwest Atlantic program has consisted of a series of field studies of Georges Bank and the surrounding continental margin and shelf in the context of the larger oceanic boundary region and the processes and phenomena that affect the ecosystem of the Bank. An integrated, multi-investigator, inter-disciplinary program has utilized modeling, retrospective analysis, and monitoring and process field studies. This coordinated field effort was in support of the overall goal of improving predictability and management of U.S. marine resources through understanding of the Northwest Atlantic/Georges Bank ecosystem. A prior request for proposals resulted in several data integration efforts and modeling studies, abstracts of which are available at http://globec.whoi.edu/globec-dir/phase4doc/project-titles.html. However, no proposals directly focused towards basin-scale coupling or climate-related phenomena were funded. This announcement requests proposals that focus on synthetic activities, including conceptual and analytical modeling activities that capitalize on and integrate intermediate-stage syntheses from the prior call for proposals, as well as upstream and broader-scale studies, and climate-related effects on Georges Bank ecosystem.

This final request for proposals, and the overall synthesis effort of the GLOBEC NWA program, has as its principal objective to synthesize the research findings of the Georges Bank program, place that knowledge into the context of basin-scale phenomena in the North Atlantic, and use that knowledge to investigate the Bank ecosystem response to future climate variability. This initiative is open to scientists without past involvement in U.S. GLOBEC as well as past and present U.S. GLOBEC investigators. The organization of principal investigators and proposals by teams with emphasis on the integration of observations and models, and the close coordination of the teams with one another, will be vital to the success of this synthesis effort.

A. Research Program Goals.

Within the overall goal outlined above, this Northwest Atlantic/Georges Bank Program continues to have three specific goals:

* To determine the processes that control the Georges Bank circulation and transport of biological, chemical, and geological materials in a strongly tidal and wind-driven system, and to determine how physical and biological processes control the population dynamics of the target organisms (early life stages of cod and haddock and the copepods Calanus finmarchicus and Pseudocalanus spp.) in the Northwest Atlantic/Georges Bank area.

* To embody this understanding in conceptual and quantitative models capable of elucidating ecosystem dynamics and responses on a broad range of space and time scales.

* To understand the effects of climate variability and climate change on the distribution, abundance and production of the target organisms.

The specific objectives and scientific questions related to these goals are described in greater detail in U.S. GLOBEC Northwest Atlantic Implementation Plan (Report No. 6). This report should be consulted in responding to this announcement (an online version is available at: http://www.usglobec.org/reports/reports.home.html#6.

B. Research Approach.

This phase of the U.S. GLOBEC Northwest Atlantic/Georges Bank Program will emphasize a number of topic areas. Examples of appropriate topics to be considered are described below. The intent is for coordinated activities that collectively address the program goals. It is anticipated that proposed work may address more than one of these topic areas.

1. Physical/biological modeling.

The development and use of conceptual and quantitative models to investigate physical and coupled physical/biological processes in the Georges Bank ecosystem have been emphasized throughout the U.S. GLOBEC Northwest Atlantic/Georges Bank program. Three-dimensional circulation models have been used to study the influence of seasonal stratification and wind forcing on flow to and over the Bank, using both idealized and realistic regional bathymetry and forcing. The role of advection, turbulent mixing, nutrient supply, insolation, predation, and other factors on the early population development of the target species has been examined using both continuous and individual-based models. These studies have involved both diagnostic and predictive models, and more recently included data assimilation to improve model accuracy and understanding of key processes. These and other model approaches will be encouraged, with particular emphasis on coupling the lower and upper trophic level models of the Georges Bank ecosystem. Ideally, a product of synthesis will be quantitative coupled physical/biological ecosystem models that embody the collective knowledge learned in the Georges Bank program and that can be used to investigate the Bank ecosystem response to future climate variability.

2: Upstream and Broader Scale Effects Influenced by Climate Change.

Waters from the Labrador Sea and Gulf of St. Lawrence flow southwestward along the eastern Canadian slope and shelf and can be traced downstream to the Middle Atlantic Bight. Thus, the planktonic populations located off eastern Canada are connected with those of the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank region and points south. Results from phases I to III have shown that these advective fluxes are important contributors to the target species dynamics in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank. Hydrographic changes observed in the Georges Bank/Gulf of Maine region are now known to be part of a larger scale regional change likely associated with ocean basin scale atmospheric forcings (North Atlantic Oscillation).

At these scales, it is possible to address the effects of climate variability as manifest through changes in the shelf and Slope Water transports and water properties. For example, general circulation model products could yield insight into the nature and magnitude of historic or projected change, the historic hydrographic record could be examined for similar information, and these changes could be imposed on simulations of the coupled physical/biological shelf system. Studies that investigate this regional manifestation of climate variability are encouraged.

3) Development of indices to characterize environmental and ecosystem status and change.

A more complete understanding of the Georges Bank ecosystem gained through the U.S. GLOBEC program should allow for the design of better - more efficient and more informative - monitoring programs in the region. Achieving this improvement will involve determining indices for the physical and lower trophic level system components that best characterize the status of the ecosystem, particularly in relation to potential higher trophic level production. An important goal is for the indices to identify the environmental influence on marine recruitment variability that can be incorporated into the management of the fish stocks and their environment in the region. Indices may be derived from directly measured parameters or from output of specific configurations of U. S. GLOBEC biological-physical models.


Proposals may be submitted by institutions in support of individual investigators or small groups. Synergistic collaboration among researchers and collaboration or partnerships with industry or government laboratories is encouraged when appropriate. Group and collaborative proposals involving more than one institution must be submitted as a single administrative package from one of the institutions involved. Due to the limited availability of funds, prospective applicants are strongly urged to contact one of the program officers listed at the end of this document for guidance. Foreign institutions are not eligible for funding through this announcement.


Under this announcement, proposals may be funded in a wide variety of award sizes and durations. NSF and NOAA expect to fund approximately five two-year research awards depending on the quality of submissions and the availability of funds. Approximately $2.5 million will be available for this initiative in FY 2004-2005. Anticipated date of awards: xxx 2004.