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4 Evaluating Thematic Priorities and Cross-Theme Integration INTRODUCTION This chapter evaluates the proposed research agenda within each of the six societal themes. The evaluation criteria that will be used below are related to three of the tasks given to the committee. They include: The clarity and appropriateness of the thematic research priorities (Task 3a); The balance among substantive research areas as well as research activities such as observations, modeling, and communication of results (Task 4b and 4c); and The degree of success in linking and integrating research activities across the themes. The draft plan identifies 21 research priorities (Table 4-1). The plan states that eight questions (Box 4-1) were used by the JSOST to guide the development of these priorities. From the narrative it is difficult to determine how the questions were applied to the six themes to produce the 21 priorities. For example, it is not clear if the questions were weighted equally, or if some were given more consideration than others. There is also no information regarding the number of potential priorities that were screened by these questions prior to arriving at the final 21 priorities. In that sense, it is difficult to assess whether specific areas were unintentionally or intentionally omitted as part of the priority-setting exercise. Further elaboration on the use of the questions in the development of the priorities would have been helpful in assessing them. Prepublication 26

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Table 4-1. Priorities identified by the JSOST* 1 Understand the status and trends of resource abundance and distribution through more accurate, timely and synoptic assessments 2 Understand interspecies and habitat/species relationships as a basis for forecasting resource stability and sustainability 3 Understand human-use patterns that may influence resource stability and 24 sustainability 4 Apply advanced technologies to enhance the benefits of various natural resources from the open ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes 5 Understand the initiation and evolution of hazard events and apply that understanding to improve forecasts of future hazard events 6 Understand the response of coastal and marine systems to natural hazards and apply that understanding to assessments of future vulnerability to natural hazards 7 Apply understanding to develop multi-hazard risk assessments and to support development of model, policies, and strategies for hazard mitigation 8 Understand the interactions between marine operations and the environment 9 Apply understanding of environmental factors to characterize and predict conditions in the maritime domain 10 Apply understanding of human behavior to develop the information and tools necessary to carry out effective, safe, and secure marine operations 11 Apply understanding of marine operations to enhance the marine transportation system 12 Understand ocean-climate interactions across regions 13 Understand the impact of climate variability and change on the ocean, including its biogeochemistry and ecosystems 14 Apply understanding of the ocean to help project future climate changes and their impacts 15 Understand and predict the impact of natural and anthropogenic processes that govern the overall level of ecosystem productivity 16 Apply understanding of ocean-related socioeconomic activities to assess the ability of marine ecosystems to provide essential goods and services 17 Apply understanding of marine ecosystems to develop appropriate indicators and metrics for their sustainable and effective management 18 Understand, forecast, and reduce ocean-related risks to human health from pathogens, biotoxins, and chemical contaminants 19 Understand human health risks associated with the ocean and the potential benefits of ocean resources to human health 20 Understand how human use and valuation of ocean resources can be affected by ocean-borne human health threats and how human activities can influence these threats 21 Apply understanding of ocean ecosystems and biodiversity to develop products and biological models to enhance human well being *The priorities are numbered here in the order that they are presented in the ORPP only to simplify referencing in the text. The numbers do not imply ranking by either the NRC committee or the JSOST. Prepublication 27

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Box 4-1 Criteria used to identify research priorities The following questions were used to identify the most compelling research priorities for each theme, recognizing that the prioritization criteria for one theme may not be equally applicable to another: Is the proposed research transformational? (e.g., will the proposed research enable significant advances for insight and application, even with potentially high risk for its success; would success provide dramatic benefits for the nation?) Does the proposed research impact many societal theme areas? Does the research address high priority needs of resource managers? Would the research provide understanding of high value to the broader scientific community? Will the research promote partnerships to expand the nation's capabilities (e.g., contributions from other partners, including communities outside of ocean science, such as health science; unique timing of activities)? Does the research serve to contribute to or enhance the leadership of the United States in ocean science? Does the research contribute to a greater understanding of ocean issues at a global scale? Does the research address mandates of governing entities (federal agencies, state, tribal and local governments)? There are three primary concerns about the research priorities as they have been identified in the draft plan: The priorities that start with "Understand" sound like goals (not research priorities). The priorities that start with "Apply" sound more like activities. This terminology fails to communicate that there are priority research activities from which milestones could be developed. In addition, many of the priority statements are so all encompassing that they do not indicate areas of research that should take precedence. The wording of some research priorities suggests that they do not involve research but rather implies that they are activities or operations that have no clear research component (e.g., Priorities 11 and 16). They do not convey the degree of difficulty or challenge in achieving them, making it difficult to realistically address the feasibility and time frame for their likely success (Task 3b). In addition, the balance among substantive research areas, as well as research activities such as observations, modeling, and communication of results (Tasks 4b and 4c), is difficult to assess for some of the thematic priorities in the ORPP. In part, that is because the balance among activities will actually depend upon the implementation of the priorities. But, it is also due to the difficulty in discerning from the plan what research will not be done as a result of the choice of research priorities. In places where it is possible to comment sensibly on issues of balance, the committee does so. The themes and their corresponding priorities would benefit from a stronger emphasis on several cross-cuts that underlie them. Integrated Assessments. The development of integrated assessment depends on information both from a comprehensive observing system and from models. In the context of physical climate variability, this is called state estimation. Such analyses are extremely useful in their own right, and they are essential to provide initial conditions for forecasts. Such baselines are essential for gauging ecosystem health trends as well. However, integrated assessments are only the first step in advancing the science and modeling capabilities. Within each theme, it would be very useful to articulate what the impediments are to generating high quality integrated assessments. Prepublication 28

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Basic Research. The important role of basic research is not clearly addressed. Many of the research priorities identify a need for "understanding," and it would be helpful, potentially inspiring, if some needed process studies were identified in the plan that could be conducted during the next decade. These inclusions could illustrate linkages among the priorities and the cross-cutting role of broad-ranging fundamental research as suggested in Chapter 3. Predictive Models. The complexity and difficulty of developing skillful integrated predictive models for use by managers and policy makers is not communicated in the descriptions provided in the "Necessary Tools" subsections within each theme, and by relegating the "Opportunities for Progress" to the back of the document. Within the themes, there are very different scientific challenges and levels of difficulty in approaching this cross-cutting objective. For example, ocean circulation and climate models have been used for operational prediction for some time, albeit with varying degrees of success, while the development of ecosystem models with sufficient predictive capacity to support ecosystem-based management are much less advanced. There are a number of models that are designed to contribute to ecosystem-based management, ranging from food web models to spatially explicit models of marine reserve design. However, there is much room for improvement of models and modeling approaches, and many models have yet to be rigorously tested against field data and experiments. In each theme, it would be very useful to articulate what the next major step is towards building a model with sufficient predictive skill to be of value to decision makers and researchers. In addition to the cross-cuts, there are clear linkages between thematic areas (Figure 4-1). Most of the thematic discussions address at least some issues that are linked to other themes. It would be helpful to enhance this discussion by taking a more consistent approach across the themes that: 1) carefully considers the interfaces between themes that intersect the key problems identified in the document and 2) states the research needed and the mechanisms to be employed to foster collaborative research in those areas. A graphic that helps the reader to visualize the connections between thematic areas would also be useful. RECOMMENDATION Linkages between the themes should be clearly and consistently delineated in the supporting text for the research priorities. This could be accomplished through a simple statement that a given research priority will also forward the goals of other (specified) themes. This recommendation is echoed in the following discussion of and recommendations for specific thematic areas. Prepublication 29

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The ocean's role in climate Stewardship of our Increasing natural and cultural resilience to ocean resources natural hazards Improving ecosystem Enabling marine health operations Enhancing human health Figure 4-1. Visualizing the linkages among the themes. The figure illustrates how one theme may influence another (indicated by the direction of the arrows). Some themes are principally drivers they describe processes that affect other societal themes; other themes are primarily receivers they are affected by but have few impacts on other themes. For example, climate change is the fundamental driver in the system (arrows point outward). However, human health does not have a direct impact on the other themes but is instead affected by most of the themes (i.e., almost all arrows point toward it). Prepublication 30

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STEWARDSHIP OF OUR NATURAL AND CULTURAL OCEAN RESOURCES The research priorities under this theme are: 1) Understand the status and trends of resource abundance and distribution through more accurate, timely, and synoptic assessments. 2) Understand interspecies and habitat/species relationships as a basis for forecasting resource stability and sustainability. 3) Understand human-use patterns that may influence resource stability and sustainability. 4) Apply advanced technologies to enhance the benefits of various natural resources from the open ocean, coasts and Great Lakes. This theme encompasses stewardship of all aspects of the oceans and Great Lakes that represent commodities that fulfill essential human needs (e.g., goods and services like food and transportation) or values (e.g., recreation, tourism, preservation of culture). While this makes sense from the viewpoint of categorizing human dependence on the ocean, it suffers as a logical organizing principal for research priorities. Too many disparate types of resources that have little to do with one another in terms of the science needed to advance knowledge are grouped under this one heading. For example, the principles of assessing and managing living renewable resources are completely different from those involving mining of non-renewable, non-living mineral resources of finite quantity, and different from protecting cultural artifacts. In an effort to fold all natural and cultural resources under one tent, the four research priorities embedded in this theme inventory, model, incorporate human dimensions, and apply technology are very diffuse. Although the plan discusses the need for taking an ecosystem-based approach, we suggest that the plan go one step further and use ecosystem-based management as the unifying concept to connect the numerous human uses of the ocean and research priorities. The interactive and cumulative effects of the many different sectors of our economy (energy, food, tourism, transportation) that draw resources from the ocean must be viewed in a holistic manner using an ecosystem-based approach. Underscoring the over-riding necessity to think in terms of the ecosystem when evaluating the effects of human activities could also be accomplished by drawing stronger connections between this theme and the one on ecosystem health. The committee also believes that the rationale fails to capture a sense of the imperiled status of our oceanic resources, the changes in human behavior necessary to achieve sustainability for renewable resources, and the difficulty of the science needed to solve these problems. This is especially evident with respect to the stated research priorities as applied to living resources. For example, the approaches that have been employed to manage living resources have often had limited success. Recent widespread coverage in the public media has highlighted these failures and the serious declines in living resources and biodiversity of the ocean. The plan misses an opportunity to address public concern about the plight of our oceans as the motivation behind the research priorities. The committee also found it difficult to identify those resources and research priorities that the report classifies as cultural. The confusion stems from differences in how the plan discusses these resources as illustrated in the statements on line 6-7, on page 21, "the ocean preserves a record of the past in the form of drowned cultural sites" and line 29-31 on page 21 "relict prehistoric landscapes, shipwrecks, and historic and living waterfronts along the nation's coasts and Great Lakes all contribute to the national cultural heritage." The latter reference includes marine dependent communities (e.g., fishing communities) and the former only references archeological sites such as shipwrecks. We recommend clarifying the definition along with highlighting the research priorities that relate to these resources. As it stands, the title of this theme implies that "natural" and "cultural" resources are of equal importance in terms of research priorities, yet none of the proposed priorities deal directly with cultural resources. Prepublication 31

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Clarity and Appropriateness of the Priorities The priorities themselves are good and need only minor adjustments. One suggested adjustment is that the priorities provide a better sense of the difficulties and challenges inherent in the natural and social science. For example, the draft plan does not mention the changing conceptual frameworks and paradigms that concern the theory of resource exploitation of living resources. On the natural science side of the ledger, problems such as loss of biodiversity, fishing down food webs, shifting baselines, metapopulation dynamics and connectivity across populations and ecosystems, genetic alterations of populations and communities, and the failure of depleted populations to rebound are not discussed in this theme. Challenges in the human and governance dimension that might be highlighted are the role for different nuances of rights based approaches (NRC 1999b), managing recreational fisheries (Coleman et al, 2004; NRC 2006a), understanding the socioeconomic trade-offs inherent in ecosystem-based management especially with respect to marine mammals, sea birds, and harvested marine species, decision making under uncertainty, and the management issues at the land-sea boundary. And, finally, as the plan mentions there are many difficult questions that reside at the interface of natural and social science that relate to the nature of the coupling and the strength of the feedbacks. The plan correctly highlights several technological issues that must be solved in the coming decade; i.e., the need to develop ocean aquaculture in an ecologically sustainable manner, the problem of species (mammals) sensitive to acoustic emissions, the need for bycatch reduction, and the need for enhanced mapping of continental shelf waters. These are important problems that research and/or technology can address, but they represent only a small subset of challenges that are faced in managing renewable resources in a sustainable fashion. Appropriateness of the balance among substantive research areas, and between research activities such as observations, modeling, and communicating results. The balance among research areas and activities is appropriate. The plan proposes to improve empirical data relative to resource status, build better models, provide better socioeconomic information, and develop new technology for a variety of purposes. The committee agrees that advances on all these fronts are appropriate and necessary goals. The priorities in this theme have an extremely strong intersection with the priorities in "Improving Ecosystem Health" (see recommendations below), as the plan discusses. The plan misses the opportunity to point out other important linkages, including the impact of climate change and natural hazards on living resources and the connection between resource exploitation and marine operations. Recommendations This theme should further emphasize the necessity of understanding all human impacts, not just fishing, and the feedbacks and cumulative impacts among them as the means of moving ocean governance to an ecosystem-based approach. Scientific consensus has already been reached regarding the need to use ecosystem-based approaches to managing living resources. To better manage the system and all of the parts, all human impacts need to be viewed through this holistic lens. Ecosystem-based thinking is the glue that can hold the numerous pieces of this theme together. Stronger ties to the "ecosystem health" theme should also be drawn. A more compelling case should be made for these extremely important research priorities based on the greater scientific and public awareness of the decline in living resources and biodiversity. The report is missing an opportunity to capitalize on growing public concern over the plight of the oceans. Prepublication 32

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Research priorities for "cultural resources" should be identified or this topic should be removed from the theme. Cultural resources are certainly valued by society and should be protected. But is there a compelling research priority that must be accomplished to do so? INCREASING RESILIENCE TO NATURAL HAZARDS The research priorities under this theme are: 5) Understand the initiation and evolution of hazard events and apply that understanding to improve forecasts of future hazard events. 6) Understand the response of coastal and marine systems to natural hazards and apply that understanding to assessments of future vulnerability to natural hazards. 7) Apply understanding to develop multi-hazard risk assessments and to support development of models, policies, and strategies for hazard mitigation. This theme addresses societal risks and vulnerability to coastal and marine hazards such as hurricanes and tsunamis. Emphasis is on understanding economic, environmental, social, and public health impacts from hazards, assessing and reducing risks and vulnerability, and on making better forecasts of hazards. Research under this theme would support assessment and reduction of risk; the saving of lives and property; and the improvement of mitigation, response, and recovery operations. Clarity and Appropriateness of the Priorities These priorities are appropriate and address significant challenges. While the stated priorities cover many aspects of coastal and marine hazards research, the explanation of the priorities would benefit from some additional detail. For example, under Priority 6, the discussion of secondary processes could be expanded to include the study of erosion and sediment transport, such as research to better understand erosion processes and sediment transfer; source, movement, volume, quality, and disposal engineering models; regional sediment budgets; impacts of human intervention (e.g., piers, groins); and fragmented uncoordinated management. This would also identify an area of research addressing the needs of the Great Lakes, which are conspicuously absent. The need for more process research to understand the nonlinear complexity of coastal inundation forcing, coastal erosion and sediment transport, and the health of coastal ecosystems has been highlighted in other reports, notably the USCOP report, but is absent from the draft ORPP. It might also include research emphasizing the importance (as learned from the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe) of preserving and enhancing "natural defenses" such as barrier beaches and wetlands, and in many cases adopting a strategy that emphasizes "nature first engineered works second." In Priority 7, the discussion might include identification of appropriate socioeconomic research topics such as policies, procedures, financial instruments, and incentives to avoid federal infrastructure investments and policies that inadvertently encourage development in vulnerable areas. Appropriateness of the balance among substantive research areas, and between research activities such as observations, modeling, and communicating results. There is an appropriate balance among the priority areas. Because, as indicated in the previous paragraph, the explanation of the priorities is relatively general, it is difficult to gauge the balance among research activities and applications and basic research. Research under these priorities would reflect a balance of activities. Hazards affect activity under all of the other themes and the discussion would be improved if these linkages were reviewed in brief. Marine hazards influence ecosystems, so there is a need for a Prepublication 33

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connection to priorities within the "Improving Ecosystem Health" theme. Some marine hazards are influenced by climate variations and change (e.g., hurricanes) so this linkage is included in Priority 5. Obviously, hazards have human health and safety implications. Connections with the "Enhancing Human Health" theme also could be made more explicit. Given the broad nature of hazards research the committee also suggests that research linkages to the other themes be identified and the synergisms be briefly discussed. Recommendation The discussion of each of these priorities should be modestly expanded to provide greater specificity in the description of proposed research and to include research on coastal erosion and sediment transport. ENABLING MARINE OPERATIONS The research priorities listed under this theme are: 8) Understand the interactions between marine operations and the environment. 9) Apply understanding of environmental factors to characterize and predict conditions in the maritime domain. 10) Apply understanding of human behavior to develop the information and tools necessary to carry out effective, safe, and secure marine operations. 11) Apply understanding of marine operations to enhance the marine transportation system. The ORPP defines marine operations to encompass commercial, recreational, and defense/security matters. The document provides good justification for further research by correctly noting that marine operations can be expected to grow in importance in the future and therefore require a strong ocean science and technology base to maintain their vitality. The ORPP identifies the "rationale" for research in this theme as enhanced marine safety, protection of marine environments, and enabling of the operations of the marine industry. The first two are quite clear, but the last one seems to be a "catch-all" of loose ends that are never effectively addressed in subsequent discussions. For example, within the "Marine Industry" category, the ORPP states that "[t]here is a need to integrate natural resource requirements, data products, technological advances..." but this is never mentioned again in subsequent discussions. Finally, there is no substantial discussion of issues unique to Homeland Security. There is a box at the end of the section, but it seems to come more as an afterthought rather than being integrated into the section as an important topic. Clarity and Appropriateness of the Priorities The priority titles in this section would be improved if they were made more specific and inspiring. As is, it may take multiple readings of the supporting text for a reader to understand what the authors might have had in mind. The discussion under Priority 8 does include some specific and intriguing research areas. It rightfully identifies the pressing issue of ballast water disposal, but it also describes research areas that are broad and open to subjective interpretation, e.g., "Areas of study include air, water, and sediment pollution..." The critical issue of the effects of sound on marine mammals, as highlighted in many reports including the USCOP, Pew Oceans Commission, and several NRC studies, is barely mentioned with only a parenthetical reference to "ocean acoustics." Importantly, the discussion fails to explicitly call-out several important marine-related issues: Prepublication 34

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understanding the environmental impacts of transportation in the Arctic, especially as new routes become available with reduction in sea ice, and quantifying the environmental impact of chronic leaks of oil and fuel in marinas and harbors (see recommendation from NRC, 2003c). Priority 9 begins with what seems to be a call to "[enhance] environmental observation, characterization, and forecasting of ocean conditions across the global ocean." It ends with an equally ambitious call for development of technologies to enhance data collection in all weather conditions. To address this concern the section needs much more specific suggestions (e.g., developing much better real- time operational current models that could be used for improving search and rescue, providing more efficient and safe ship navigation, and aiding in pollutant cleanup). Priority 11 could be interpreted as intelligent implementation of various aspects of marine operations and not as research. The committee recognizes that there are legitimate research topics within this priority area, but they are not evident in the rather general discussion. Each of the topics within this priority needs to be expanded somewhat to identify the specific objective of the research to be undertaken. Priority 10 suffers the same weaknesses already identified in the other three priorities. Because of the lack of specificity, the committee remains unclear as to exactly what would be involved and who would benefit. Perhaps, most importantly, several of the suggested topics seem to involve operational issues that are the responsibility of private industry (e.g., training of operators as opposed to development of more effective training materials). Appropriateness of the balance among substantive research areas, and between research activities such as observations, modeling, and communicating results. The priorities, as presented, appear to be largely focused on marine transportation. Greater balance needs to be added by discussing how the proposed research will address marine operations related to defense, fishing and aquaculture, recreation, search-and-rescue, and energy and minerals exploitation. Some linkages to research within the other themes are identified but could be greatly expanded. For example, deepwater operations could be linked with the potential impacts on deepwater ecosystems. A tenuous link with "The Ocean's Role in Climate" is made under Priority 8, but it needs a much more explicit linkage. Mention is made of "environmentally sensitive areas" in the discussion of Priority 8, and could be linked to the "Improving Ecosystem Health" theme. The "Necessary Tools" section correctly identifies, among other things, the necessity for integrated databases and interoperability of the relevant technologies, but it fails to identify the key databases or shortcomings that need to be fixed with relevant technology. Finally, the ORPP does not mention the possible use of marine vessels as a component of the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) operation. This would certainly seem to be a topic worthy of considerable focus as marine vessels represent a potentially inexpensive, underutilized, and prolific source of ocean observations. As well, marine operations involved in deploying and maintaining the IOOS would benefit from the research under this theme. Prepublication 35

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Recommendations Specific research requirements should be better identified and described. The plan should clearly distinguish operational activities from research goals. Research goals should be broader than marine transportation and include areas such as national defense, fishing, and recreation. THE OCEAN'S ROLE IN CLIMATE The research priorities under this theme are: 12) Understand ocean-climate interactions across regions. 13) Understand the impact of climate variability and change on the ocean, including its biogeochemistry and ecosystems. 14) Apply understanding of the ocean to help project future climate changes and their impacts. This section addresses the role of the ocean in the Earth's climate system, the impacts of climate variability and change on the ocean, and ultimately the impacts of climate variability and change upon human activities in, on, and around the ocean. The title, however, does not reflect the intent to address both the role of the ocean in climate and the impact of climate variability and change on the ocean. However, this latter objective is clearly recognized in the rationale for the theme, and it is included as an explicit priority. For example, an alternative title might be "Oceans and Climate." Clarity and Appropriateness of the Priorities Priority 14 concerns translation of basic research into practical use for societal benefit. Priorities 12 and 13 address the required basic research components. This is thus a complete, balanced, but broad, set of priorities. However, the committee believes that the priorities can be written in a more compelling way that would excite non-academics, including members of the political and managerial communities those whose ultimate budget decisions will determine whether much of the proposed work will take place. Priority 12 would be clear (though very broad) if "across regions" were not included. This phrase could be taken to mean global scale interactions only. Other themes require regional resolution of these interactions. Perhaps what is meant is "within and across regions." Understanding nonlinear time- and space-scale interactions is indeed a climate research challenge that deserves high priority, because of their importance for accurate forecasts (and quantifying uncertainty in forecasts), and because of the need to provide high resolution of those forecasts in time and space. For example, understanding the rate of sea level change, as highlighted in the rationale for this theme, requires explicit recognition of the importance of multiple, compounded sources of variability and change acting on different time and space scales within and across regions. This section would be improved by a brief discussion of process research that is required to advance understanding in this way. Priority 13 is clear and highly appropriate to the needs of this and other themes. This priority will require fundamental research to develop statistical and/or numerical models that integrate physics, biogeochemistry, and ecosystems. However, the priority is all-encompassing, and it would be useful to identify some areas where there is a fundamental lack of understanding. For example, important aspects of biogeochemistry and ecosystems depend on diffusive processes, and a challenging and essential goal would be to understand climate-related variations of these processes, such as ocean eddies and mixing, and their impacts. Priority 14 is also clearly relevant and highly appropriate considering society's current concern about accurate and timely climate-related forecasts. However, this priority as written does not reflect the requirement for some useful level of skill or accuracy in relation to the prediction and projection Prepublication 36

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objectives. For example, it is not at all obvious that "coupled climate models will also allow improved short-term predictions (e.g., hurricane intensity)." It is necessary to quantify the "predictability" of a system before an intelligent approach to generating skillful short-term predictions and longer-term projections can be developed, let alone implemented for use by managers and policy makers. Also, sub- models may need to be developed to enable useful predictions of certain variables from coupled climate models. For example, ocean surface wave statistics are needed for translating the impacts of climate variations into coastal ecosystems and into marine operations, yet they are not now included in climate models. Appropriateness of the balance among substantive research areas, and between research activities such as observations, modeling, and communicating results. The critical needs for this theme are to expand sustained ocean observations and to conduct ocean process research required to improve numerical models for ocean state estimation and prediction. It is not clear from the document how the pursuit of the thematic priorities will be coordinated to achieve this. The need for an integrated and sustained observing system is identified clearly. The importance of sustained and enhanced satellite observations for these climate priorities is called out, but the critical problem of ensuring continuity of existing and planned systems is not addressed. While some of the related issues could be deferred to an implementation plan, assessing the feasibility of meeting the ocean observing requirements for the priority research articulated in the plan does depend strongly on what is assumed about satellite missions. For example, the current skill in estimating the ocean's physical state is very dependent on the global coverage and integrating nature of altimetric measurements of sea level, and the objective of making useful predictions of climate variations may not be achievable without these satellite observations. The recent NRC report, Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation (NRC, 2005) made the following observation: "Given the long lead times (up to a decade) required to identify user needs and develop instrument capabilities, it is essential to have a prioritized science mission strategy based on compelling scientific issues and societal needs and opportunities...[the current] process is completely inadequate to meet established needs of Earth science or society." The report specifically mentions the loss of the wide-swath ocean altimeter due to budget shortfalls. The altimeter would have enabled measurement of phenomena needed to improve ocean circulation models and to support marine transportation and fisheries research and forecasts. The requirement for high-resolution coupled climate models is clear to climate scientists, but could be made more compelling in the plan if it were related to the requirements of other themes. Linkages of this theme with the "Enhancing Human Health" and with the "Improving Ecosystem Health" themes would be useful in this regard. The lack of a connection made with "Enabling Marine Operations" and "Stewardship of Our Natural and Cultural Ocean Resources" themes is also apparent. The importance of the combined effects of rising sea levels with storm surges and high wave episodes represents an important linkage between this theme and the "Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards" theme that could be discussed. The required synergy between observations and models is not adequately addressed within the research priorities. Improving model parameterizations of unresolved processes is an essential and fundamental research requirement, while improving methods for data assimilation into models is a compelling applied research requirement. There is a hint of these elements in "Opportunities for Progress" (subsection on "Developing the Tools"), but they need to be explicitly and clearly recognized within the research priorities. Prepublication 37

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Recommendations Linkages with other themes should be improved. The linkages with "Enhancing Human Health" and with "Improving Ecosystem Health" are provided in the rationale. Connections with "Enabling Marine Operations" are not made here, though some are identified within that theme. There are currently no apparent connections made with the "Stewardship of Our Natural and Cultural Ocean Resources" theme. Priorities 12 and 14 should include discussions of sea level that explicitly recognize the importance of multiple, compounded sources of variability and change. For example, climate- related changes in surface wave characteristics need to be understood. The superposition of storm surges and high wave episodes on rising sea levels represents an important linkage between this theme and the "Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards" and the "Enabling Marine Operations" themes. This relationship between short time scale variability and long-term change is clearly identified in the former theme. The larger challenge of understanding the interaction of processes across time- and space-scales could be articulated more clearly in priority 12. IMPROVING ECOSYSTEM HEALTH The research priorities under this theme are: 15) Understand and predict the impact of natural and anthropogenic processes that govern the overall level of ecosystem productivity. 16) Apply understanding of ocean-related socioeconomic activities to assess the ability of marine ecosystems to provide essential goods and services. 17) Apply understanding of marine ecosystems to develop appropriate indicators and metrics for their sustainable and effective management. This theme correctly addresses and acknowledges the complexity and importance of marine ecosystems, and suggests that there is much to be learned about the structure, function, and vulnerability of these systems. However, there are still some significant knowledge gaps that the plan misses, including: factors that control ecosystem stability and productivity; processes acting across interfaces (e.g., sea surface and bottom); linkages between ecosystem types; and, ultimately, the relationship between marine ecosystems and the larger ocean-Earth-atmosphere system. Another important omission is a definition of what constitutes a healthy ecosystem. The committee suggests that the plan would benefit from such a clarification. Clarity and Appropriateness of the Priorities Priority 15 emphasizes the incorporation of existing physical, chemical, and biological knowledge across different temporal and spatial scales to address ecosystem questions. However, existing information will not be sufficient to support the development of the dispersal models or next generation of trophic models called for under this priority. Model development will require additional process studies to improve ecosystem forecasting. This could be made explicit and clearer in the text. The goal for this priority is to predict the impact of processes, natural and anthropogenic, that govern ecosystem productivity. In this context, the term productivity appears to be the sole indicator of ecosystem health. Productivity is one dimension of ecosystem health. However, it alone is a poor metric because marine systems can maintain stable levels of secondary production, set by nutrient loadings and physical conditions (NRC, 2000b; Nixon and Buckley, 2002), even when severely perturbed by human activities. One example is seen in coastal ecosystems that receive high levels of anthropogenic nutrient input. Productivity in such systems is often elevated, showing, for example, highly productive fisheries Prepublication 38

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and high fisheries landings, (e.g., Nixon and Buckley 2002, Figure 4-2), but they also often experience the negative symptoms of eutrophication such as seasonal hypoxia. This example illustrates the difficulty of trying to use a single metric such as productivity to define ecosystem health. It also highlights the need for a clear definition of ecosystem health. Other important system characteristics to consider include structure, function, and complexity. As articulated in the rationale, there is a critical need to develop and enhance our understanding of the limits to system resilience, threshold responses, and movement and transport between and through systems. Priority 15, however, only calls for the incorporation of existing knowledge (e.g., physical, chemical, biological) across different temporal and spatial scales to address ecosystem questions and does not address these gaps. Ecosystems exhibit a nonlinear complexity that is relevant to the determination of a system's intrinsic predictability. Much of this complexity is still a black box and a better delineation of the potentially predictable versus generally unpredictable components will be necessary to enhance ecosystem forecasting skill. Monitoring to establish baselines for forecasts and predictions is necessary to understand the relationships between various ecosystem components, and can help to inform and parameterize the models that will be used for ecosystem-based management. However, the emphasis on monitoring should not come at the expense of process-oriented studies. Both approaches are needed, and the plan could seek ways to more clearly integrate the approaches that evaluate ecosystem status via continuous monitoring (data collection) with approaches that are process-oriented and/or hypothesis driven. Priority 16 seems to suggest that modeling of social and economic factors will predict the impact of human society on marine ecosystems, but not enough is known about the ecological dynamics and system vulnerabilities such as trophic interactions, species-habitat functionalities, and thresholds to build such models. The supporting text acknowledges the need for better models and more information, but this is not clear from the wording of the priority statement. The supporting text for priority 16 calls for new approaches to evaluate consumptive and non- consumptive use of resources and the need to take into consideration the rights of future generations. In addition to developing new approaches, there is a need to collect finer scale spatial and temporal data on consumptive and non-consumptive use of ocean resources. The statement on the rights of future generations does not describe a research question. However, a clearer statement on the need for better cost-benefit approaches and discounting procedures to assess the true value of sustainable management practices would be appropriate. Priority 17 calls for the development of approaches to identify one or more indicators that can be used to assess the health of a given ecosystem. When tightly linked to the scientific results supporting priorities 15 and 16, indicators can provide an important source of information on the trends and future threats to an ecosystem. However, this section is particularly vague and will benefit from a clearer definition of what is needed to define a healthy ecosystem. Prepublication 39

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Figure 4-2. Cross system comparisons indicate that primary production increases with nitrogen loading and that fisheries landings are positively related to primary production. As a result, marine systems receiving the highest levels of anthropogenic nutrient loadings also tend to have the highest fisheries landings even if they also experience negative effects of nutrient enrichment such as algal blooms, hypoxia and loss of aquatic macrophytes. Source: Nixon and Buckley, 2002; courtesy of the Estuarine Research Federation. Appropriateness of the balance among substantive research areas, and between research activities such as observations, modeling, and communicating results. There is a strong emphasis on observations under this theme, which is appropriate for studies that are relevant to ecosystem health and, ultimately, ecosystem-based management. There is less emphasis on the requirements for developing "effective, reliable ecosystem models" for assessment, prediction, and management, though these requirements are listed. As noted earlier in this section of the committee's report, the emphasis on monitoring could be balanced with discussion of needed process studies. Process studies are necessary to identify mechanisms that underlie patterns captured in observational studies and are essential for model development. This is a cross-cutting issue could be effectively presented if discussed as a call out box before the individual priorities. The acquisition of large data sets is acknowledged as clearly important for studies that are relevant to ecosystem health and ultimately ecosystem-based management. However, the need for integrating this information (scientific and socioeconomic) into broadly available databases is not addressed in the plan. Improved sensors and instrumentation generate data in ever finer temporal and spatial scales, allowing important ecological questions to be addressed at scales not previously approachable. Improvements in computational power and increasing sophistication of data assimilation and modeling techniques provide the ability to utilize these large datasets, particularly for research that combine biological and physical processes. Prepublication 40

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Recommendations The plan should seek ways to more clearly integrate the approaches that evaluate ecosystem status via continuous monitoring (data collection) with approaches that are process-oriented and/or hypothesis driven. Priority 16 should be revised as follows: "Develop socioeconomic models for application to ocean and coastal issues to help evaluate the impact of multiple human uses on marine ecosystems." A broader range of ecosystem responses (not just productivity) should be considered as measures for ecosystem health. The priority would be improved by substituting wording such as the following: "Develop the capability to predict the impact of natural and anthropogenic processes on ecological systems." A number of system characteristics, including organization, composition, complexity, and productivity, are important to consider both as measures of impact and as factors that ultimately influence the direction and magnitude of ecological responses. Particular attention should be paid to non-linear dynamics, threshold responses, and properties that influence the ability of systems to resist or recover from natural and anthropogenic stressors. Additional emphasis should be placed on increasing knowledge and understanding of factors contributing to maintenance and restoration of ecosystem health. There are large gaps in our understanding of how marine ecosystems are organized and function, and how the individual biotic, chemical, and physical components of marine systems respond to both natural and anthropogenic forcings, which are not addressed in the current plan. Information should be translated into a form that is useful to resource managers and policy makers. ENHANCING HUMAN HEALTH The research priorities under this theme are: 18) Understand, forecast and reduce ocean-related risks to human health from pathogens, biotoxins, and chemical contaminants. 19) Understand human health risks associated with the ocean and the potential benefits of ocean resources to human health. 20) Understand how human use and valuation of ocean resources can be affected by ocean-borne human health threats and how human activities can influence these threats. 21) Apply understanding of ocean ecosystems and biodiversity to develop products and biological models to enhance human well being. This theme addresses a broad array of human health issues that relate to the ocean. Both problems and opportunities are included. The major issues highlighted under this theme pathogens, harmful algal blooms (HABs), contaminants, marine bioproducts, and biological models are appropriate and capture the most important research topics. Pathogens, HABs, marine bioproducts and biological models were highlighted in the 1999 NRC report, From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. The other topic included in that report natural hazards is included in another theme in the plan. The addition of contaminants in this theme is appropriate and important. In general, the justification for this theme is solid and should be easily understood by non- scientists. The theme rationale can be strengthened, however, by expanding beyond sickness and drugs to include the potential for major contributions to science in general. In addition, fact-checking will be critical. The estimate of the number of individuals that become ill from shellfish in the U.S. seems much too high. The accuracy of the estimate needs to be checked, the causes of illness (e.g., seafood storage and handling vs. illness related to HABs, pathogens, and contaminants within the marine environment) identified, and a citation provided for the number of individuals affected. Prepublication 41

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Clarity and Appropriateness of the Priorities The four research priorities under the "Enhancing Human Health" theme capture a broad range of topics that are appropriate and will clearly advance science in this area. The research priorities for this theme include the most critical issues in the area of oceans and human health, identified at the Denver workshop and in From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health (NRC, 1999a). The priorities would be strengthened, however, by increased consideration of the need for basic research, by clearer wording, and by more explicitly describing important linkages with research priorities in other research themes. Consistent inclusion of the need for basic research on the range of topics within each priority would emphasize the value of an increased knowledge base that could contribute to meeting societal needs. For instance, Priority 21 could encourage research that provides improved understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying the action of natural marine toxins and beneficial compounds, not just "discovery, testing and development" of ocean bioproducts. Similarly, Priority 19 could encourage research to improve methodology and increase the accuracy and sophistication of epidemiological studies that the document recognizes as important to understanding and predicting effects of ocean processes on human health. The breadth of research recommended in the plan is also unnecessarily constrained by the choice of wording. For example, the statement, "the use of marine species as mechanistic models for the study of diseases, toxicology and biochemical processes relevant to human health" can be altered so that potential contributions to other important fields such as genetics and neuroanatomy are not excluded. The scope of recommended research can be expanded by simply rewording the phrase to "the use of marine species as mechanistic models for a range of processes relevant to human health, including the study of diseases, toxicology, biochemistry and other important processes." An important problem with research priorities included in this theme is that the distinction between Priorities 18 and 19 is not clear. It appears that the document may be trying to distinguish between the need for underlying process studies (Priority 18), and quantification of risks and benefits (Priority 19). Clearer wording is needed. The need for process studies to improve the understanding of important underlying mechanisms for all highlighted topics could be more strongly emphasized, whether or not it was the intent in Priority 18 discussed above. The wording in Priority 20 may also unnecessarily limit the scope of recommended research into economic consequences of real and perceived threats to human health. A full understanding of how real and perceived threats to human health affect fisheries and tourism is not limited to cases where fisheries or beaches are closed. Appropriateness of the balance among substantive research areas, and between research activities such as observations, modeling, and communicating results. This theme includes an appropriate balance between substantive research areas, except for the uneven discussion of basic research among the four research priorities. A strength of the priorities is the recognition of the multidisciplinary nature of research needed to advance this theme. The theme also recommends a mix of process studies, observations, and modeling. Not enough detail is provided in this brief section of the plan to assess the mix of these activities. Linkages to other themes could be made more explicit by using clearer wording to convey the intent of the document. For example, a statement such as "research is needed to better understand and predict the relationship between ecosystem health and the effects of oceans on human health" provides much clearer direction on research needs than the current wording in Priority 18, which states that "these studies should also incorporate research being carried out on ecosystem health." In addition, connections Prepublication 42

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between human health and critical issues discussed under other themes could be highlighted to emphasize the importance and opportunities for interdisciplinary and interagency collaboration. Examples of important linkages among themes that could be added include: "Improving Ecosystem Health" and "Enhancing Human Health": The relationship between factors that influence marine biodiversity and the sources of novel marine compounds; and "The Ocean's Role in Climate" and "Enhancing Human Health": Potential effects of climate change on the distributions and pathogenicity of disease-causing agents, the distributions and toxicity of HABs, and opportunities for bioprospecting. Recommendation More careful wording should be used so that the distinction between Priorities 18 and 19 is clear, the scope of recommended research is not unnecessarily constrained, and important linkages among research themes are described. The importance of both process studies and quantification of risk should be clearly emphasized. Prepublication 43