The NOAA Marine Ecological Response program is sponsoring a study of stratification variability on Georges Bank and its effect on larval fish survival. A pilot study was conducted in May 1992. Its objectives are to relate spatial and temporal variability in stratification on the southern flank of the bank to changes in food availability, growth, and survival of larval cod and haddock. This field study is scheduled to be completed prior to the onset of the Georges Bank U.S. GLOBEC program, and should provide an excellent source of information for the study developed from this plan.
The NOAA Atlantic Climate Change Program (ACCP) is focussing on the response of the global atmosphere to anomalies in the Atlantic Ocean and on the development of ocean-atmosphere models to simulate and predict the seasonal-to-decade changes over and around the Atlantic basin. The observations made by ACCP will provide information on the conditions in the deep oceanic region seaward of the Georges Bank area. Of particular use will be the basin-scale monitoring of climate variability through the 1990's, and high resolution analysis of the North Atlantic geological record. The modeling results will identify the changes in atmospheric forcing which may be expected to occur. This information is necessary to evaluate the potential effects of climate change on the target populations on Georges Bank.
Two programs being conducted in Canada are of interest. A component of the Ocean Production Enhancement Network (OPEN) is studying the physical and biological processes controlling the recruitment of cod on the Western Sable Bank region of the Scotian Shelf. It will provide an excellent comparative data base for U.S. GLOBEC. The Northern Cod Science Program (NCSP) is focussing on the predator-prey dynamics of the cod stocks off Labrador and Newfoundland, including coastal regions as well as on a number of offshore banks. There is also a wealth of experience and data available from nearly two decades of Canadian physical and biological research in the Scotian Shelf, Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank (refer to section 126.96.36.199).
Of particular interest to the International Cod and Climate Change Program (CCC) is the varied response of different cod populations to climate changes in various regions of the cod's North Atlantic range. Differences in the regional data bases available for addressing this issue make interregional comparisons a high priority. There is also a new Scientific Committee on Ocean Research (SCOR) working group on pelagic biogeography that may provide opportunities for linking additional research activities in the North Atlantic with the Georges Bank study.
Together the OPEN, NCSP and CCC programs will provide the opportunity to compare results of the U.S. GLOBEC Georges Bank Study with similar investigations in other coastal and bank systems of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is essential that scientists and managers from these programs meet at regularly scheduled workshops to insure maximum coordination of research activities and information exchange. In addition, the lessons from regional programs, such as OPEN, are useful in the development of the new U.S. GLOBEC program. For example, U.S. GLOBEC researchers should interact with OPEN scientists, who have been dealing with the logistics of a monthly cruise strategy.
A NOAA Coastal Ocean Program-sponsored study of the predator-prey interactions of the primary fish populations in the Georges Bank ecosystem is proposed for 1994. It will consider the implications of the dramatic shift in fish biomass from groundfish and flounders to elasmobranchs over recent decades. This program will complement the U.S. GLOBEC Georges Bank Study by addressing the predation of adult fish on the juvenile stages of the target species cod and haddock. It will continue the investigation of those species after settlement to the bottom and through the rest of the first year of life.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has ongoing sampling programs which will contribute information to the U.S. GLOBEC Georges Bank Study. In particular, NMFS conducts annual fall (since 1963) and spring (since 1967) bottom trawl surveys to assess the abundance and distribution of the adult fish stocks from Cape Hatteras through the Gulf of Maine, including Georges Bank. The spring survey is conducted in March and April, in the middle of the period of interest to the U.S. GLOBEC Georges Bank Study. Larval cod have been collected in previous years as well, in conjunction with these surveys. The trawl survey program will provide information on the distribution, abundance, and fecundity of the important fish stocks in the region, including the target species cod and haddock.
The Coastal Ocean Processes Program (CoOP) is now being developed as a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary effort focussing on the transfer of properties in the coastal ocean. Overlap between CoOP and U.S. GLOBEC in relation to model development and testing, observational techniques, and process studies is anticipated. Other U.S and international programs, including the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) and the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), are not presently involved in research in the North Atlantic. However, the experience of these "mature" research programs, in terms of technology development, field logistics, extensive data sets, and model simulations, will be valuable in the development of the Georges Bank U.S. GLOBEC plan. For example, WOCE scientists from Canada and the United Kingdom are examining the ocean's response to the North Atlantic Oscillation, which may be related to fluctuations in the Georges Bank ecosystem. The use of long-term moorings at Bermuda by JGOFS scientists may benefit the Georges Bank program. Possible linkages between variability in the Bermuda time series and variability in the Georges Bank area should be explored. Inter-annual variability in the North Atlantic Oscillation is correlated with changes in water temperature at Bermuda (Talley and Raymer, 1982). Much of this work is still ongoing; cooperative field and model research between this U.S. GLOBEC program and these studies is strongly encouraged.