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4— Relationship of Regional, National, and International Scientific Programs REGIONAL MARINE RESEARCH PRIORITIES The Regional Marine Research Program (RMRP), administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under authority of the South Carolina Fish Hatchery Act (PL 101-593), includes nine regional marine research programs (see Figure 5). Each region has established an 11-person board and has developed a Regional Marine Research Plan. Only one region, the Gulf of Maine, has received research funding to implement its plan, although all regions received funding to develop their plans. Although it is uncertain whether the implementation of any other plans will be funded in the future, much effort has been expended in developing these plans, and they can serve as a valuable source of information about regional research priorities. The enabling legislation specified that the plans be focused on water quality and environmental health (Bryant, 1993). This focus is congruent with those of the Water Subcommittee and the Committee to Identify High-Priority Science to Meet National Coastal Needs, so the committee examined the nine Regional Marine Research Plans to assess whether any common themes and research priorities emerged among the regions. RMRP research could fill a niche in the national coastal research program because of its regional, ecosystem-level focus, which brings together the capabilities and expertise of individuals and agencies from (in most cases) multistate regions. Such an emphasis is needed because much ongoing research funded by the federal government is either relatively localized or more national or global in nature, yet many environmental problems are regional in scope. The Gulf of
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FIGURE 5 Regional marine research programs. (From ''The Regional Marine Research Program (RMRP): A new approach to marine research planning, in Coastal Management, 1993, Vol. 21(4), p. 328, B. C. Bryant, Taylor & Francis, Inc., Washington, D.C. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.)
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Maine Research Plan (Gulf of Maine Regional Marine Research Program, 1992) noted that regional marine research may also provide the boundary conditions or the context for research on smaller or larger scales. Most plans share some common elements pertaining to how research priorities were generated. There was initially some type of survey of scientists and managers within the region regarding their ideas about what research priorities should be included in the plan. Such information was gathered through questionnaires, interviews, workshops, and other means. In some regions the RMRP board made the initial determination of research possibilities and later participants ranked these. Regardless of the process, long lists of priority research topics were produced. Regional boards applied various criteria to select a small number of appropriate research priorities that were not otherwise being addressed on a regional level and that were of sufficient societal importance within the region. In Table 1 research priorities of the nine RMRP regions are compared in summary form to the national scientific priorities identified by the committee in Chapter 3. Some research priorities contained in the regional plans did not fall neatly within the national research priority areas identified by the Water Subcommittee. Those primarily concerned living resource utilization and management. The priorities shared most consistently among the regional assessments and the national assessments of the committee are as follows: indicators of ecosystem health that can be used in monitoring; studies of eutrophication and the response of coastal ecosystems to nutrient inputs; assessments of the fate and effects of selected toxicants, particularly in sediments; and investigation of the effects of physical modification of habitats and the restoration of these habitats. In addition, more than one region identified understanding natural variability and population stability in ecosystems, the causes of increased incidence of biotoxins (possibly related to algal blooms), trophic dynamics, and coastal erosion as important objectives for regional research. There are also some obvious regional differences, with concerns about eutrophication being higher along the east and Gulf coasts [because of the preponderance of large watershed inputs (Figure 3), large coastal embayments, and broad continental shelves], issues related to fisheries rating more attention in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, and attention to coral reefs limited, of course, to the Caribbean and Insular Pacific. Differences are also related to the fact that the plans were to focus on issues that were not otherwise being addressed adequately. Interestingly, although many plans identified nutrient and toxicant inputs from diffuse sources as an issue meriting research and monitoring, only the Mid-Atlantic plan specifically addressed the effects of land use and exchanges between estuaries and the coastal ocean.
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TABLE 1 Relationship of the Research Priorities Identified in the Regional Marine Research Plans to Those Identified by the Committee to Identify High-Priority Science to Meet National Coastal Needs National Priority Research Areas Regional Marine Research Plan Priorities National Priorities Identified by Committee Integrated Monitoring • Indicators of water quality and ecosystem health (AK, SA); • Integrated water quality and ecosystem health assessment and monitoring (IP) • Measure diffuse inputs; • Develop indicators of biological status and processes; • Deploy improved in situ and remote sensing systems; • Link regional and national monitoring; • Improve monitoring management systems Water Availability and Flow • Effects of land use on coastal ecosystem structure and function (MA); • Create numerical ocean circulation model (SA); • Assessment and monitoring of nearshore physical processes (IP); • Freshwater inputs, saltwater intrusion (MEX) • Couple watershed hydrology and material flux; • Develop atmosphere-watershed-coastal ecosystem models; • Increase understanding of physical forcing processes Water Quality and Aquatic Ecosystem Functions • Natural variability, threshold of effects, detecting change and cumulative impacts (NW, SW); • Catastrophic events (MEX); • Nutrients and eutrophication: algal blooms, oxygen depletion, nutrient cycling (MA, ME, MEX, NY); • Contaminated sediments (NY); • Fates and effects of toxic contaminants (IP, ME, MEX, NW); • Causes of increased incidence of biotoxins (AK, MEX); • Population stability of marine organisms (MEX) • Relate nutrient flux to ecosystem dynamics; • Conduct strategic scientific assessments of toxic effects; • Investigate the role of sediments in coastal ecosystems; • Relate resource use to ecosystem sustainability; • Assess multiple stressors and scales; • Promote comparative coastal ecosystem science
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• Trophic dynamics, linkages between pelagic and benthic food chains (AK, MEX); • Evaluate complete estuarine systems based on function (SA); • Material and biotic exchanges between estuaries and coastal ocean (MA) Ecological Restoration and Rehabilitation • Importance of natural and human-induced changes to physical environment (ME, MEX, NW); • Coastal erosion, sediment transfer, and climatic effects (MA, MEX); • Causes and effects of coral reef decline, factors affecting recovery (SA); • Habitat protection and management (SW); • Restoration of coastal marine habitats (MEX, SW); • Habitat use (MEX) • Determine effects of habitat loss and degradation on biodiversity and productivity; • Advance restoration science and engineering; • Guide the remediation of toxic contamination Predictive Systems Management • Data-gathering and -sharing system (AK); • Forum for communication (AK) • Implement observation and prediction systems; • Employ ecosystem models as management tools; • Advance adaptive ecosystem management; • Stimulate interactions between science and management Abbreviations: AK, Alaska region; IP, Insular Pacific region; MA, Mid-Atlantic region; ME, Gulf of Maine region; MEX, Gulf of Mexico region; NW, Pacific Northwest region; NY, Greater New York Bight region; SA, South Atlantic and Caribbean region; SW, Southwest region (see Figure 5).
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RELATIONSHIP TO THE PRIORITIES OF THE FRESHWATER IMPERATIVE The Freshwater Imperative (Naiman et al., in press) makes a case for expanded research on the nation's freshwater environments and makes recommendations concerning institutional changes to accomplish the greatly expanded scientific effort that is recommended. Although the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Research's (CENR) Water Subcommittee has indicated that it intends to use The Freshwater Initiative, it was not developed in response to a Water Subcommittee request, as is the case of the present report, and, consequently, did not specifically seek to address the five priority research areas defined by the Water Subcommittee. The research priorities identified in The Freshwater Imperative are grouped under six areas (see Table 2). In general, there is considerable coherence between the scientific priorities identified for freshwater ecosystems in that report and for coastal ecosystems in this report. Only a few of the recommended research efforts for freshwater environments are not somehow embodied in the science priorities identified in this report: biodiversity inventories, quantification of aesthetic and recreational values, and biogeochemical research on enhanced ultraviolet radiation, linked cycles, and gas flux. This is largely a result of the fact that the Committee to Identify High-Priority Science to Meet National Coastal Needs addressed only those issues under consideration by the Water Subcommittee; the additional freshwater priorities given in The Freshwater Initiative may be more closely related to issues being addressed by other CENR subcommittees (see Chapter 5). For example, biodiversity is considered in our assessment only as it relates to water quality and habitat condition, while the CENR Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics Subcommittee would logically address the need for maintaining biodiversity. More importantly, there are similar themes in the sets of freshwater and coastal priorities that reflect both the nature of environmental problems and the present state of aquatic sciences. These serve as common goals and organizing concepts for water resource research and include (1) the importance of modifications of water flows and associated material fluxes and transformations on watershed and regional scales; (2) the need for indicators of ecosystem health and function for use in monitoring and restoration; (3) the integration of physical phenomena and ecosystem structure (i.e., populations and their interactions) and function (i.e., energetics and biogeochemical processes) in order to understand the effects of human activities on ecosystems; (4) ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation; and (5) the development of science-based predictive management through the use of coupled models. GEOGRAPHICALLY TARGETED STRATEGIC RESEARCH Environmental management in the mid-1990s is moving rapidly to an eco-
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TABLE 2 Research Priorities Identified in The Freshwater Imperative (Naiman et al., in press) Priority Research Area Recommended Research Efforts Ecological Restoration and Rehabilitation • Determine how specific freshwater ecosystems function; • Predict environmental responses to specific restoration practices; • Standardize protocols for restoration across regions and habitats; • Develop evaluation capabilities for restored systems Maintaining Biodiversity • Document biodiversity by surveys and inventories; • Define the importance of specific species and ecological processes to human society and ecosystem structure and function; • Assess the effects of biotic manipulations, exotic invasions, and abiotic manipulations on biodiversity Modified Flow Patterns • Assess effects of watershed alternations on hydrological regimes; • Quantify status and trends in landscape patterns within watersheds across U.S. ecoregions; • Understand effects of modified hydrological regimes on biodiversity, biotic interactions, riparian and downstream ecosystems, and biogeochemical cycling of particles, nutrients, and other chemicals Ecosystem Goods and Services • Determine effects of toxicants, nutrients, organic matter, and sediments on water quality and quantity; • Evaluate biological productivity in terms of factors limiting heterotrophic production; biophysical transformations that affect productivity in land-water ecotones; role of food web structure; and effects of environmental lagtimes and life history controls on community structure and dynamics; • Quantify aesthetic and recreational values and establish carrying capacities Predictive Management • Determine how changes in frequency, intensity, and duration of disturbance events are influenced by human actions and affect freshwater ecosystems; • Understand how environmental disturbances create long-term lagtimes and legacies at the watershed scale; • Develop and evaluate biological indicators and integrative measures of ecosystem and biogeochemical functioning; • Develop coupled physical-biological models Solving Future Problems • Physical research to improve predictions over wide spatial and temporal scales; relate alteration of temperature and water availability to environmental processes; and understand how biophysical patches and boundaries affect water quality; • Biogeochemical research on enhanced ultraviolet radiation, linked cycles, and gas flux with the atmosphere; • Biological research on species persistence and environmental change, theory development, and sensitive landscape components
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system management approach that is place-based. This is developing because of the shortcomings of regulation on a medium-by-medium basis (e.g., air quality, water quality, wetlands health). It has become increasingly clear that these media interact and that the medium-by-medium approach has not always protected the environment. In addition, it is observed that people relate to the places in which they live—their surrounding ecosystems—and are more willing to make commitments to ensure the quality of their environmental place and address use conflicts in that place. One of the recommendations of The National Performance Review is the application of ecosystem management throughout the federal government (Gore, 1993). This would require an integrating and coordinating mechanism that has often been lacking in federal environmental science and management, for example, a framework for addressing the kinds of linkages between watersheds and coastal ecosystems that have been discussed in this report. At the same time, ecosystem management presents significant challenges, including the decentralization of both science planning and environmental regulation and the need to work across the firmly entrenched lines of agencies and scientific disciplines. The move toward regional ecosystem management suggests that considerable opportunities for scientific progress in the future may lie largely within regional scientific or management programs. The Water Subcommittee, in addition to its development of a national scientific strategy and implementation plan, is also developing initiatives targeting specific locations in support of the federal government's efforts to develop collaborative management initiatives with federal, state, and local governments and other interested parties that integrate the ecological, economic, and social factors affecting ecosystems. From the scientific perspective, two questions about geographically targeted research arise: (1) How will these geographically focused research initiatives avoid the tendency of being overly prescriptive and allow for the creative contributions of the scientific community? (2) How will the national and geographically focused strategies be coordinated in such a way as to advance the development and application of comparative coastal science, as recommended in Chapter 3? The committee believes that this is possible through research that is intense enough to approach ecosystem-level questions in the targeted area. Such research should rely on the creative proposals of individuals and groups of scientists that respond to clearly defined, strategic questions important to ecosystem management and that are evaluated by a rigorous peer review process. The Water Subcommittee's geographically targeted strategic research should be integrated with its overall research plan to avoid competition for funds and to ensure that local research programs contribute to Water Subcommittee goals. The focus on local issues within a national strategic framework of the National Sea Grant College Program (NRC, 1994f) offers both a model and opportunity for geographically targeted strategic research.
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REGIONAL COORDINATION Federal science agencies should work to improve regional coordination of science supported by their national programs in addition to whatever coordination is accomplished as a result of regional programs such as the RMRP; the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, and Chesapeake Bay programs; and EPA's National Estuary Program. Not only are there efficiencies to be gained in the sharing of ships, observation systems, data, personnel, and other resources, but there are often significant opportunities for improving understanding beyond that allowed by a single program. Often, narrow perspectives of agency mission, logistical obstacles, and restrictions posed by contracting and granting procedures limit such coordination, even when it may be in the nation's interest (see Box 8). On the other hand, some federal agencies have a long tradition of cooperatively funding oceanographic investigations. CENR should work to maximize the synergy of federal science investments when they coincide geographically. INTERNATIONAL ROLES The Water Subcommittee's strategy and this report (to this point) have dealt with the coastal ecosystems of the United States. But the committee believes that the U.S. government and the national scientific community also have an obligation to contribute to the advancement and application of coastal science around the world. The United States has substantial expertise in coastal science. Moreover, this nation has a tremendous training capability within its many universities engaged in research and graduate training in the coastal sciences. The problems in evidence in the United States (eutrophication, habitat destruction, and others) are also manifest throughout the rest of the world. The pressures on coastal environments and resources in the developing world as a result of projected population growth in coastal areas, and agricultural and industrial growth to sustain these populations, will almost certainly make our problems pale by comparison. Moreover, there are benefits for management of U.S. coastal environments to be gained by comparative studies of other relatively pristine and highly stressed environments around the world, expanding the range of systems that can be studied. Moreover, the United States has made international commitments to implement integrated coastal management under Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and to maintain global biodiversity under the Biodiversity Treaty. Contributions by U.S. scientists should be an important part of meeting these commitments. The international community of coastal scientists has been working together in the development of an initiative under the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP). This initiative, the Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) program has identified scientific activities under four foci (see
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Box 8 Opportunities: Past, Present, and Future Agencies that sponsor coastal ocean and Great Lakes research sometimes have opportunities for coordinating their research or monitoring efforts in ways that mutually enhance their programs simply because of the geographic proximity and timing of those programs. However, coordination does not always occur, nor is it always effective. Two large multiyear research programs were begun within the same general time frame on the continental shelf of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. The Nutrient Enhanced Coastal Ocean Productivity (NECOP) program of NOAA assessed the effects of nutrients discharged by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers on production and oxygen depletion on the shelf. The Louisiana-Texas (LATEX) Shelf Physical Oceanography study, sponsored by the Minerals Management Service (MMS), was begun shortly thereafter and included a very extensive field program of current measurements and survey cruises, coupled with physical modeling. There was very little coordination between these two programs until they were well under way, and then it was mostly accomplished through shared principal investigators. The NECOP program lacked the physical oceanographic measurements that would provide quantification of important processes affecting shelf oxygen depletion. MMS sponsored the LATEX program to help understand the impacts of oil and gas production. Important to measuring those impacts is their separation from those due to oxygen depletion and contaminants introduced by the large rivers. It too missed an opportunity to add value to its physical oceanographic studies. Opportunities now exist for profitable coordination of the variety of federally supported studies being conducted or planned in the southern Mid-Atlantic Bight above Cape Hatteras. Fortunately, they are being coordinated. Nearshore physical and biological processes are being investigated under National Science Foundation support as the first Coastal Ocean Processes Program (CoOP) study. These are being coordinated with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-sponsored studies off Duck, North Carolina, and with Office of Naval Research studies in the same region. The Department of Energy's Ocean Margins Program investigation of shelf transport and offshelf deposition of carbon is beginning in the same region. There are additional opportunities to link all of these efforts to those under way in the Chesapeake Bay as part of a Land-Margins Ecosystem Research (LMER) study to address the transport and transformation of nutrients and organic carbon from a major estuary, exchange with the presumably enriched inner shelf regime, and contribution to potentially globally significant offshelf deposition. Table 3). Focus 1, dealing with the effects of changes in external forcing or boundary conditions on coastal fluxes, is very coherent with science priorities identified in this report: catchment basin (watershed) dynamics and delivery, atmospheric inputs, fluxes across coastal systems, and development of coupled land-estuarine-ocean models. In addition, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is seeking to implement the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), called for specifically by Agenda 21. One of the five GOOS modules
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TABLE 3 Foci and Activities of the IGBP Land-Ocean Interaction in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) Program (Holligan and de Boois, 1993) FOCUS 1: The effects of changes in external forcing on boundary conditions on coastal fluxes 1.1 Catchment basin dynamics and delivery 1.2 Atmospheric inputs to the coastal zone 1.3 Exchange of energy and matter at the shelf edge 1.4 Factors influencing the mass balance of materials in coastal systems 1.5 Reconstructions of past changes in the coastal zone 1.6 Development of coupled land-estuarine-ocean models for coastal systems FOCUS 2: Coastal biogeomorphology and sea-level rise 2.1 Role of ecosystems in determining coastal geomorphology 2.2 Biogeomorphological responses to changes in land use, climate, and human activities in the coastal zone 2.3 Prediction of coastal geomorphology for different scenarios of relative sea level change FOCUS 3: Carbon fluxes and trace gas emissions 3.1 Cycling of organic matter within coastal systems 3.2 Estimation of net fluxes of N2O and CH4 in the coastal zone 3.3 Estimation of global coastal emissions of dimethyl disulfide FOCUS 4: Economic and social impacts of global change on coastal systems 4.1 Evolution of coastal systems under different scenarios of global change 4.2 Effects of changes to coastal systems on social and economic activities 4.3 Development of improved strategies for the management of coastal resources deals specifically with Monitoring of the Coastal Zone Environment and Its Changes, and other modules concerned with climate, the health of the ocean, living marine resources, and marine meteorology are also highly relevant to the objective of coastal ecosystem integrity (NRC, 1994d). The committee recommends that the Water Subcommittee identify and develop mechanisms to promote intellectual exchange between the U.S. coastal science community and its counterparts in other nations, including scientific coordination with the LOICZ program, GOOS activities, and bilateral science programs (e.g., the U.S.-Canadian Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network). Such exchanges will maximize the contributions of U.S. programs such as LMER, CoOP, the Department of Energy Ocean Margins Program, the Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics program, and national and regional monitoring.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: