In recent years national and international efforts to develop standardized earth observing systems have increased. The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) is the U.S. contribution to the Global Ocean Observing System (a multinational effort sponsored by the International Council for Science and several United Nations groups) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Global Earth Observing System of Systems.
IOOS involves a spectrum of activities that efficiently link ocean observations, data management, modeling, and product development, providing information to significantly improve the nation’s ability to achieve seven societal goals:
- Improve predictions of climate change and weather and their effects on coastal communities and the nation
- Improve the safety and efficiency of marine operations
- Mitigate the effects of natural hazards more effectively
- Improve national and homeland security
- Reduce public health risks
- Protect and restore healthy coastal marine ecosystems more effectively
- Enable the sustained use of marine resources
It is envisioned as a coordinated national and international
observation network that systematically and efficiently acquires, analyzes, manages, and disseminates data and information on the oceans and coasts, including the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (from mean low water of the coastline outward 200 nautical miles), Great Lakes, and estuaries.
IOOS consists of three highly inter-related subsystems: an
observational subsystem includes observing platforms (e.g., ships, moorings, satellites, planes), sensors, and sampling devices; a data management and communications subsystem provides protocols and standards for quality assurance and control, data dissemination and exchange, data archiving, and user access; and a modeling and analysis subsystem provides predictive models, data assimilation, and the development of data products. IOOS consists of a national "backbone" complemented by eleven regional ocean observing
|Blue whale equipped with a dive recorder as part of the Center for Integrated Marine Technologies program (upper image) photo John Calambokidis. Dive profile of a tagged whale in relation to krill swarms near the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon (lower image). figure Kelly Newton
Monterey Bay is in the center of one of the eleven regional
associations of ocean observing systems: the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS). Formed in 2003 and currently funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Services Center, CeNCOOS has a mission to coordinate and support the development and implementation of a regional ocean observing system from the northern California border to Point Conception, providing data and products to a diversity of end users at appropriate spatial and temporal scales. CeNCOOS collects data on a standard suite of variables (e.g., sea surface temperature, wind speed and direction, currents, salinity). Currently the national backbone provides a common set of goals and data collection methods across all of the regional associations, but each region (e.g., CeNCOOS) augments these national efforts with data collection platforms and sensors that address region-specific variables over smaller spatial and temporal scales.
CeNCOOS is a collaboration of approximately fifty-five public agencies, academic/research institutions, and private non-profit
and for-profit corporations. The CeNCOOS geographic database
of existing observing systems in the region includes information
on more than seventy-five different observing activities involving
more than 175 different partner institutions and 1,000+ sites. The majority of these sites are within the Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank, and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. Multiple
institutions within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary partner with CeNCOOS, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), the Naval Postgraduate School, University of California Santa Cruz, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, California State University Monterey Bay, and NOAA Fisheries at Santa Cruz.
Readers can visit the CeNCOOS web site (www.cencoos.org)
for more information about the organization, including information about observing activities in the region and partner institutions. With the help of the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN), the CeNCOOS web site also includes a portal to real-time and near-real-time data from moored buoys, satellites, high-frequency radar, shore-based stations, and biological platforms (e.g., elephant seals tagged with environmental sensors).
In a complementary effort and with funding from NOAA
since 2002, many of the Monterey Bay area partners currently involved in CeNCOOS formed the Center for Integrated Marine Technologies (CIMT). Viewed as an IOOS pilot project, CIMT uses and develops new technological approaches to study the processes driving the highly productive coastal upwelling ecosystems along the California coast. CIMT scientists measure key
components in the system and integrate diverse data sets across
disciplines and programs. By studying ecosystem components
from wind to whales, CIMT will establish a scientific basis for effective monitoring and management of fisheries and other resources associated with them.
Visitors to the CIMT web site (http://cimt.ucsc.edu/) can view several products centered on Monterey Bay. For example, users can access real-time physical oceanographic and meteorological data collected by MBARI moorings, view surface currents in real time, and see near-real-time satellite images of sea surface temperature, chlorophyll, winds, and the output of a wave model. In addition, CIMT ship surveys collect acoustic backscatter data that are displayed on top of Monterey Bay bathymetric data to yield a 3-D view.
In the coming years, as societal needs increase, ocean observing and the development and delivery of useful data products will become more prominent. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, along with both the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, will continue to be a major partner in these activities along the central and northern California coast.
Steve Lonhart1 and Stephanie Watson2
1Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN)
2Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System