Ed Ricketts Memorial Lecture
Dr. Ken Johnson
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
What Does $4,000,000,000/Year in Agriculture Mean to Our Coastal Ocean? Lessons from LOBO (the Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory)
Monterey Bay sits at the end of the Salinas Valley, one of the most productive and intensely farmed systems in the country. The value of Monterey County crop sales exceeded $4,000,000,000 in 2010 and agriculture is the largest element of Monterey County's economy. The runoff from this system flows in to Monterey Bay and presents a variety of potential impacts on the ecosystem, including stimulation of algal blooms due to excess nutrients. A delicate balance is required to maintain a sustainable food supply and to protect the ocean environment, which is a focal point of tourism, the second largest element of the County's economy. Managing such an ecosystem requires a timely flow of reliable information about the state of environment; just as running a business requires timely information on expenditures, revenues and projections of future opportunities. In modern business, the information must flow in real time, with up-to-date information on current market conditions, variable production costs and a multitude of other parameters required to remain competitive.
The focus of this talk will be on the benefits and opportunities that arise from using real time information systems in the environment. The Land-Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory (LOBO) is a network of chemical and biological sensors that have been operated in the waters of Elkhorn Slough, the Old Salinas River Channel and in Monterey Bay since 2003. Data flows directly to the Internet, where it is available to the public at www.mbari.org/lobo. The lessons learned in tracking nitrate concentrations as they flow through this system, and their impacts on the environment will be the main emphasis.