CHAPTER 3

COASTAL ECOSYSTEM HEALTH

Introduction

The coastal zone is subjected to a wide range of stresses, from increased nutrient inputs to loss of habitat. To manage and protect the coastal zone, it has become necessary to develop an understanding of the effects of multiple impacts on coastal ecosystems and to adopt a more integrated approach to ecosystem management (NOAA, 1993a). The goal of the Coastal Ecosystem Health (CEH)theme is to be able to predict the effects of multiple stressors on coastal resources. CEH is being established by the merger of three former themes: Nutrient Enhanced Productivity, Toxic Chemical Contaminants, and Estuarine Habitats (Figure 3.1). Elements of the Resource Information Delivery (RID) program also have been included in the new CEH theme. The new theme will examine the effects of stresses from eutrophication, toxins, and habitat loss on coastal ecosystems in an integrated way. The objectives of CEH are:

  1. to quantify the magnitude and effects of specific natural and anthropogenic stressors and the combinations of those stressors;

  2. to identify indicators of integrated stress at individual, population, and ecosystem levels; and

  3. to evaluate the effectiveness of potential alternative mitigation approaches.



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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) CHAPTER 3 COASTAL ECOSYSTEM HEALTH Introduction The coastal zone is subjected to a wide range of stresses, from increased nutrient inputs to loss of habitat. To manage and protect the coastal zone, it has become necessary to develop an understanding of the effects of multiple impacts on coastal ecosystems and to adopt a more integrated approach to ecosystem management (NOAA, 1993a). The goal of the Coastal Ecosystem Health (CEH)theme is to be able to predict the effects of multiple stressors on coastal resources. CEH is being established by the merger of three former themes: Nutrient Enhanced Productivity, Toxic Chemical Contaminants, and Estuarine Habitats (Figure 3.1). Elements of the Resource Information Delivery (RID) program also have been included in the new CEH theme. The new theme will examine the effects of stresses from eutrophication, toxins, and habitat loss on coastal ecosystems in an integrated way. The objectives of CEH are: to quantify the magnitude and effects of specific natural and anthropogenic stressors and the combinations of those stressors; to identify indicators of integrated stress at individual, population, and ecosystem levels; and to evaluate the effectiveness of potential alternative mitigation approaches.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Figure 3.1 Coastal Ecosystem Health Theme Structure. NECOP-MAR is the Nutrient Enhanced Coastal Ocean Productivity-Mississippi-Atchafalaya Rivers program; ANICA is the Atmospheric Nutrient Inputs to Coastal Areas program; and COMPAS is the Coastal Ocean Management, Planning, and Assessment System.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) The panel review of this theme took place over several months, beginning with a formal review held in Washington on November 1-2, 1993. Presentations were made to the panel on nearly all of the ongoing programs in the former themes except for the Resource Information Delivery (RID) theme. In-depth presentations were made on: Nutrient Enhanced Coastal Ocean Productivity-Mississippi Atchafalaya Rivers (NECOP-MAR), Atmospheric Nutrient Inputs to Coastal Areas (ANICA), Estuarine Habitat Program (EHP), Coast-Watch Change Analysis Program (C-CAP), and Toxic Chemical Contaminants. The economic evaluation program of RID was discussed, but the panel was not briefed about the Coastal Ocean Management, Planning, and Assessment System (COMPAS). At this meeting, and shortly afterwards, many documents were reviewed by the panel, including the FY 1993 and FY 1994 implementation plans for most of the programs and projects, summaries of previous TAC reports and the responses from CEH investigators, journal articles, and technical reports. The panel evaluated all aspects of these programs. A summary review of the CEH theme will be presented next, followed by reviews of the individual programs. Goals and Objectives The CEH theme is now proposing to proceed beyond research on the effects of individual stresses (such as nutrient enrichment, toxins, and habitat loss) on ecosystem health, and to examine how the integrated effects of natural and anthropogenic stresses affect coastal ecosystems. This is an ambitious and important goal, but it has the potential limitation of becoming too diffuse and losing perspective on the basic scientific processes controlling coastal ecosystems. The theme's major focus should continue to be on the processes and mechanisms by which stressors affect coastal ecosystems. This theme should continue to work closely with programs such as the National Status and Trends (NS&T) program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (E-MAP) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to develop new ways to assess and inventory the health of the coastal zone. Because overall coastal environmental quality is closely tied to secondary production and fisheries recruitment, this theme should also develop connections with the Coastal Fisheries Ecosystems theme. Progress and Quality CEH progress has been significant in those areas in which it has been able to make a significant financial investment. The quality of research activities has also

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) been high, and will become more generally recognized as the many internal technical reports are published in the refereed literature. The panel believes that the collaboration between academia and the NOAA labs has contributed to the progress of this theme by bringing new perspectives to old problems and by helping to focus the attention of academia on critical problems in the coastal zone. Utility of the Research The results of CEH research have been quite useful. Examples of successful ventures include: the major field effort of NECOP which addressed the impacts of the 1993 upper Mississippi floods on the lower Gulf watershed, the recent evaluation of atmospheric nitrogen deposition to Great Waters, the development of new bio-indicators for assessing toxic contamination, new research on marsh restoration, improved procedures for assessing change in wetland habitats, and the development of a data management system for coastal managers. Theme Management In general, planning has been successful but the theme has been limited due to shortages or postponements of funding and CEH has been slow to scale back its plans. Most programs in the CEH theme have planned four- to five-year projects with projected budget increases of two-to five-fold (COP, 1992; MACII, 1993; NOAA, 1993a). COP needs to require that programs use realistic budget assumptions in their planning. CEH has a large number of programs and is working at a fraction of its planned and required funding. Thus, a disproportionate amount of time and money has been spent on planning and review meetings, rather than in conducting research. Under limited funding, COP has justly appropriated research and field work to only a few of its programs. However, this means the choice of these priority programs needs to be made very carefully, in close consultation with its scientific advisory and review committees and in coordination with other federal coastal programs. CEH should establish a better balance among resources devoted to planning, review, and research. Toxic Chemical Contaminants has an active TAC which meets frequently (June 1992 and August 1993). Nutrient Enhanced Productivity had a comprehensive meeting of both management and an external advisory review team in June 1992. Estuarine Habitats held a joint investigator, management, and TAC meeting in 1992, and C-CAP had a meeting of their TAC in September 1993.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) The panel supports the decision to merge the former themes into a single CEH theme and to try to integrate research within this theme. However, unless COP's limited budget is greatly increased, initiating new programs will require that some of the old programs be eliminated (at least for now) or transferred to other parts of NOAA. CEH should develop a strategy for “down phasing or shedding” some of its many programs, while initiating new programs. New programs should be given reasonable lifetimes in which to accomplish their goals and should not plan for indefinite funding. The former structure of multiple themes and a large number of programs was too compartmentalized to allow for integration of the results of the individual programs. Merging the former themes into a single new theme is a first step toward integration but is not sufficient by itself. Planning and program development need to take place at the theme level for this new structure to succeed. The present structure of assembling all the program heads to act as a “theme team” makes it difficult to eliminate or phase out programs. A separate TAC for the entire theme is needed, consisting of individuals not directly involved in any of the individual programs. Responsiveness to Past Reviews The former themes related to environmental quality have sought thorough and frequent outside evaluation and nearly all have had a comprehensive review since the overall COP review carried out by the panel in 1991. Most themes had technical advisory committees (TACs) which played active roles in shaping the different programs. COP has also responded to some of the broader thematic issues raised in the 1991 panel review (NRC, 1991). For example: the Nutrient Enhanced Productivity theme changed the focus of NECOP-MAR as a result of the 1991 panel review and recommendations made by external scientific advisers; COP suspended its program on the causes and effects of toxic algal blooms (CEHAB) in response to the panel's criticism that the program was too ambitious considering COP's budget; COP adopted the panel's suggestion to undertake a modeling and synthesis effort in the Estuarine Habitat theme; and COP has eliminated Resource Information Delivery (RID) as a separate entity and is trying to incorporate RID into each of the theme areas. Future Plans and Theme Recommendations The new field initiative into multiple stressors is a bold approach to the problem of coastal environmental quality. However, it will be a new venture for both COP and the scientific community. COP should follow the progress of this program closely to determine if this approach produces high quality integrated research.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Individual Programs—Assessments and Recommendations Nutrient Enhanced Productivity (NEP) The goal of this program is to “improve the environmental quality of coastal waters by predicting the harmful effects of nutrient over-enrichment (eutrophication, oxygen depletion, harmful algal blooms, and effects on the global carbon cycle)” (NOAA, 1991). Most of this program's budget has been allotted to study the influence of the Mississippi/Atchafalaya river system on nutrient enhanced production in the Gulf of Mexico through the Nutrient Enhanced Coastal Ocean Productivity-Mississippi-Atchafalaya Rivers (NECOP-MAR) project. The NECOP-MAR project has also received some support from other branches of NOAA in the form of research vessel support. As originally envisioned, NECOP-MAR was to be one of several largescale ecosystem studies. Proposals for projects in the South Atlantic Bight and the Yukon-Kuskokwim rivers were received but the funding for expansion to other areas has not become available (Calder, 1992). A project on atmospheric nutrient inputs, entitled Atmospheric Nutrient Inputs to Coastal Areas (ANICA) has received funding from COP, but largely relies on other sources of funds within NOAA to meet many of its objectives. Although COP developed plans for a large program on causes and effects of harmful algal blooms (CEHAB), only a small amount of funding was allocated to this project in FY 1992, and the effort was discontinued the next year due to the overall COP budget constraints. While the study of harmful algal blooms could clearly fall within the new CEH theme, its presence in the old NEP theme was somewhat controversial. External review teams felt that the assumption that harmful algal blooms were directly linked with nutrient enrichment was still unproven (Calder, 1992). An additional project, a National Assessment of Harmful Algal Blooms (NANO) was developed by COP, but has been moved to the NOAA National Ocean Service (NOS) because of complementary NOS activity on eutrophication. Nutrient Enhanced Coastal Ocean Productivity-Mississippi-Atchafalaya Rivers (NECOP-MAR)—This project, when established, had four objectives: (1) to determine the degree to which coastal primary productivity has been enhanced in areas receiving terrestrial inputs, (2) to determine the impact of increased primary productivity on water quality (including dissolved oxygen), (3) to determine the impact of fixed carbon on living resources, and (4) to determine the impact of nutrient enhanced primary productivity on the global carbon cycle. In response to recommendations of outside review committees and the 1991 panel eview, NECOP narrowed its focus to shelf

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) productivity and hypoxia issues and dropped global carbon flux studies as a major objective. 6 NECOP has been most active in: (1) determining specific nutrients that limit productivity and biomass of primary producers, (2) making direct measurements of nutrient recycling and “new productivity” in different seasons, (3) enhancing modeling efforts relative to direct measures of fluxes and physical linkages, and (4) examining the impact of hypoxia on socioeconomic conditions around the Gulf of Mexico. NECOP has conducted high quality research in these areas. The results of NECOP will be quantified in terms of a mass balance model to test the sensitivity of the Gulf of Mexico to changes in nitrogen and phosphorus inputs and on their rates of change. It will include a component to interpret sedimentary records for historical carbon flux, hypoxia, and other “biomarkers.” NECOP results have been useful for a number of purposes. NECOP has focused on understanding the basic biogeochemical processes involved in the mixing of riverine plume and shelf waters. This will be of great utility to other basic research programs with similar goals [e.g., the NSF Coastal Ocean Processes (CoOP) initiative and the Ocean Margins Program of the Department of Energy]. NECOP also has documented the intensity and areal extent of hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This has been particularly relevant for studies of the effects of the record floods of 1993 in the upper Mississippi watershed. Particularly noteworthy are the NECOP-hosted workshops for all researchers active in the area of the Gulf of Mexico impacted by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. This resulted in a comprehensive workshop report (NECOP/MAR Review Panel, 1991). NECOP will shortly be submitting manuscripts for a dedicated volume of Estuaries. NECOP has made useful contributions to our understanding of the relationship between enhanced primary productivity and water quality in the Gulf of Mexico. The understanding of basic processes gained through NECOP will benefit scientists and managers in all coastal areas, not just the Gulf of Mexico. The limited modeling done under NECOP is the first step towards developing the capability of predicting the impact that nutrient control strategies may have on the productivity of the shelf and to determine the probability of coastal hypoxia. However, the modeling effort to date is insufficient to address the needs of environmental managers, except in a preliminary fashion (MACII, 1993). The utility of this work should be enhanced as the regional physical oceanography becomes better known. Coordination and collaboration with other federal programs, especially the CoOP study on buoyant plumes and the MMS 6   COP review comments related to 1991 PoCO review report, accompanying a March 18, 1992 letter from NOAA Under Secretary John Knauss to OSB Chairman Carl Wunsch.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Louisiana-Texas Physical Oceanography Study is essential for NECOP to achieve its objectives. NECOP has a successful history of planning and development. The NECOP-MAR project has produced some excellent scientific results. COP planned to provide NECOP-MAR with 2 additional years of funding at the time of the review. The panel supports this plan and urges that this time and funding be used for analysis and synthesis of results. The NECOP review team has recommended that NECOP-MAR be followed up with further monitoring (Calder, 1992). Although the panel believes this effort would be worthwhile, COP's mission does not include long-term monitoring. COP should continue to fund state-of-the-art, innovative science in the area of environmental quality and should not commit itself indefinitely to a single program or geographic area. Atmospheric Nutrient Inputs to Coastal Areas (ANICA)—The general goal of ANICA is to quantify the fraction of the nutrient loads that enter U.S. estuaries and coastal areas via the atmosphere, particularly nitrogen. The specific objective of ANICA is to assess the existing and continuing nitrogen deposition data around the Great Waters to determine the dry fraction of nitrate deposition. This is an important goal from both scientific and management perspectives. The 1988 Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) report (Fisher et al., 1988; Fisher and Oppenheimer, 1991) on the importance of atmospheric nitrogen deposition to Chesapeake Bay stimulated intense interest in the role of atmospherically-derived nutrients to coastal waters. However, there is a need to put the data from ANICA in perspective with all other nitrogen inputs to a Great Water such as Chesapeake Bay, including the nitrogen input in a watershed or from ground water that comes from atmospheric deposition. Presently, the project is not examining the fate of atmospherically deposited nitrogen within the watershed. There are large uncertainties in calculating how much of the nitrogen from precipitation falling on a watershed enters coastal and estuarine waters (Hinga et al., 1991). If the removal of nitrogen in terrestrial systems before entry of freshwater into the estuary is very high, as some studies have suggested (Jaworski et al., 1992), than the emphasis on atmospheric deposition may be less relevant to COP. The progress and quality of ANICA research have been very good, given its severe funding limitations. In fact, it has leveraged some existing programs to achieve remarkable progress. Examples include some of the first direct measurements of atmospheric nitrate dry deposition to a calibrated agricultural watershed. ANICA has also completed a critical evaluation of atmospheric nitrogen deposition to the Chesapeake Bay watershed with proper quality control and assessment. It has set up

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) some additional deposition monitoring sites in the lower Chesapeake Bay where the data set is limited. It has used data from meteorological buoys in Chesapeake Bay to calculate the dry deposition of atmospheric nitrogen. Finally, it has initiated dry deposition investigations of other airborne chemicals and nitrogen species via eddy correlation measurements. ANICA has been particularly good in providing essential information to other programs engaged in atmospheric input to coastal waters. For example, the EPA Great Waters program will need atmospheric nitrogen input data, and under ANICA, this has occurred in the Chesapeake Bay Atmospheric Deposition Study. However, ANICA is not as strongly linked with other COP projects as it might be. The COP effort in ANICA needs to link the atmospheric deposition measurements into a regional nitrogen budget. The ANICA program should begin studying factors within the watershed that control nitrogen retention to play a more important role in CEH and COP. The ANICA program has had good planning, but it has developed slowly due to limited resources. It is now well poised to start undertaking a major field effort in conjunction with the EPA Great Waters program. The timing of EPA Great Waters research is right for COP to start ANICA field research now. Toxic Chemical Contaminants The goal of the Toxic Chemical Contaminants (TCC) program is “to assess the levels and effects of toxic contamination in U.S. marine and Great Lakes environments and to develop the capability to predict the effects of those toxins on marine resources and human use” (NOAA, 1991). TCC has four major objectives: Bioeffects surveys—assessment of the extent and magnitude of environmental degradation related to contamination by toxic chemicals; Bioavailability and Bioaccumulation—evaluation of factors and relationships that control uptake and bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals; Bioindicator Development—development of new and improved methodology for quantifying bioeffects of toxins; and Bioeffects Research—bioeffects research to establish links between contaminant exposure and significant effects.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) To date, most of the emphasis of has been directed at objectives 1 and 3 with some extramural projects funded under objective 4 to identify biological damage at the immunological and cellular levels. Due to limited funds, no efforts have been directed toward objective 2. The ultimate goal of bioeffects research is to be able to predict consequences of contaminant exposure to populations and communities of marine animals, although present research efforts are directed at understanding effects at the level of the individual organism. The TCC program has contributed to a broader understanding of the biological effects of contaminants in coastal habitats by adding information to the NOAA NS&T data base. The objectives of the program are similar to those of EPA E-MAP, but the focus of TCC has been on understanding cellular processes as bioindicators of damage, whereas E-MAP has taken a broader ecosystem approach. There is a need for both programs but the COP focus should be on integrating studies of both fate and effects of toxic materials. This will require more research on the factors and relationships that control uptake and bioaccumulation and on the linkages between bioindicators and effects at the species and population level. The panel believes that TCC needs to move in this direction, and in particular, TCC should take the lead in expanding our understanding of the relationship between bioindicators and population effects. At the last meeting of TCC's TAC (October 1993), the interaction between investigators involved in objectives 1 and 3 was encouraged, to enhance the utility and field deployment of bioindicators developed under objective 3 (TCC TAC, 1993). The TAC also encouraged TCC to synthesize existing information relevant to objective 2. Studies funded under objective 4 will be completed this year and a new round of extramural proposals was to be solicited. With the FY 1994 budget cuts, the extramural research was largely eliminated. The panel recommends that TCC increase the percentage of its funds that are awarded to extramural grants, achieving the COP-wide level of 40% external funding, and to promote the type of beneficial NOAA-academic interactions that have occurred in other COP programs. If TCC is to be integrated into CEH, two shortcomings of the present program need to be addressed: (1) studies on the physical and chemical behavior of contaminants in coastal environments; and (2) linkages between bioindicators and population and community responses. The behavior of contaminants has important bearing on the distribution (and redistribution) of contaminants in coastal environments and the availability of contaminants to marine organisms. A balanced TCC needs to include an assessment of both the fate and effects of contaminants, and it is essential to include a commitment to these studies in future funding.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) With regard to population and community level effects, although the program includes bioindicators of important population parameters (e.g., reproduction, development, and growth), these studies are conducted largely in the absence of an understanding of the regulatory processes controlling populations of marine organisms. Funding in subsequent years should be allocated to study linkages between organismal and population responses. This is one area where there is a real gap in our understanding. This gap needs to be filled if the program is to make the link between the effects of toxins at the level of an individual to the effects of multiple stressors at an ecosystem level. The TAC has provided good support for the program and has played a major role in the direction and evaluation of program goals. The program has made good progress over the past few years. TCC results were presented at a symposium held at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Experimental Toxicology and Chemistry in November 1993. The program has contributed to a broader understanding of the biological effects of contaminants in coastal habitats than would have been available from NS&T and E-MAP alone. Much of the program's past focus has been on developing bioindicators. One measure of success of this effort will be how well new bioindicator assays become incorporated into monitoring programs like NS&T and E-MAP. Estuarine Habitat Program The goal of the Estuarine Habitat Program (EHP) is “to provide managers at both the state and local levels with more quantitative information on the rates of habitat degradation and loss, the functional value of specific habitats, the cumulative effects of environmental stress, and how to restore and create estuarine habitats more effectively.” (NOAA, 1991) EHP has three objectives: (1) to determine the location and extent of critical habitats and the rate at which these habitats are being changed or lost; (2) to determine how estuarine habitats function to support living resources and to develop methods for habitat restoration; and (3) to incorporate this information into synthesis documents and computerized data bases useful to habitat managers. The first objective is being addressed with the CoastWatch-Change Analysis Program (C-CAP), and the second is being addressed under the Estuarine Habitat Studies project. Elements of objective three are included in both projects. C-CAP is using geographical information systems (GISs) to organize and analyze information on habitat change and habitat area. EHP is also funding a modeling and synthesis effort on sea grass habitats which is linking a process-based model of eel grass beds into a GIS. The goal

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) is to develop a spatial habitat model that can be compared to C-CAP 's data on habitat change. Review of EHP Projects CoastWatch Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) (recently renamed Coastal Change Analysis Program—The objective of C-CAP is to determine the location and extent of coastal habitats and the rate at which these habitats are being altered or lost. C-CAP uses satellite, aerial photographic, and surface-level surveys to map habitat location, extent, and quality, and to determine change through time. The rationale for this effort is that changes due to human population growth and the subsequent impacts on the natural environment occurs faster than anticipated, and no programs have existed to monitor those changes on national and regional levels on appropriate time scales. The C-CAP project has been addressing that objective through three components: (1) land cover change analysis protocol development, (2) regional change analysis and, (3) remote sensing of wetland health (COP, 1993). Wetland Change Analysis Development—The component focused on the development of wetland change analysis protocols appears to be substantially completed, and has resulted in a guidance document for regional implementation (Dodson et al., 1993). The protocol document provides solid guidelines for developing and implementing a national coastal change analysis program. The protocols have been tested and implemented (on a trial basis) successfully in Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina regions. Focus on protocol development should be significantly reduced and the use of prototypes completed. The program leader should initiate the in-house development of a procedure to comment on and refine the protocols in the future to take advantage of feedback from users and from research advancements. There does not appear to be a long-term plan for maintaining and updating protocols and distributing the guidance document. COP leadership should consider the document operational and seriously evaluate the efficacy of transferring responsibility for protocol maintenance to a NOAA line office in conjunction with the transfer of regional analysis. There may be inherent problems with this type of transfer, and these potential problems should be studied and identified by COP in 1994. Research should continue relative to refining change detection algorithms and techniques. The present research efforts appear well defined, competitive, and peer reviewed. The development and use of a Technical Advisory Committee to recommend research topics and to review and select research proposals is commendable. As existing multi-year research efforts end, the

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) percentage of funds allocated to protocol research should be reduced, with an increase in the allocation of funds to research linking C-CAP information with process-oriented modeling at the system level. Based on recommendation by the COP Director and several workshop reports, there will be much less emphasis placed on accuracy assessment. Although the results of the latest effort to evaluate accuracy are not yet available, it has been observed that this is an extraordinarily complex issue relative to change detection. Although accuracy assessment may not be technically approachable at this time, once initial regional data coverage has been accomplished, it will likely become a significant issue. This will be particularly true for scientific users of the change analysis information. We recommend not abandoning this portion of research, but it can be kept at a low priority or should obtain non-COP funds; it may require a significant effort to determine change detection accuracy in a manner that is statistically rigorous. Regional Change Analysis—The measurement of the extent and type of habitat change provides the first level of measurement in planned landscape-level modeling efforts. Two major prototype projects have been completed and comprise the significant geographic extent of regional application. It does not appear that any large geographic areas will be the subject of any studies in FY1994. The COP Director has indicated that a national one-time coverage is important for continuing change detection. We agree with that conclusion and recommend that a substantial effort be made to develop additional andlong-term regional programs during 1994 and 1995. To meet its objectives in a cost effective way, the C-CAP project should solidify the criteria for regional participation and actively solicit partnerships (through a request for proposals), that are based on continuing programs, not demonstrations or prototypes. It is recognized by the panel that this regional analysis component is not a research effort. To that end, regional analysis must eventually be transferred to some other NOAA program. COP should begin the identification of NOAA programs that could house the regional analysis on an operational basis. We recommend a late 1996 target for partial or full transfer of regional analysis. COP support to the regional analysis should take the form of research efforts to improve protocol techniques and to utilize the information being generated. A static protocol without the dynamics of continuing research will eventually be detrimental to the long-term regional implementation.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Remote Sensing of Wetlands Health—Remote sensing of wetlands health appears to be the weakest component of C-CAP. A synthesis document has been produced (Patience and Klemas, 1993) but a minimal research effort has been allotted to this component. We recommend that the wetland health component of the program be eliminated or delayed in favor of systems modeling and integration of C-CAP data into other COP programs. The goals of C-CAP are good and are being accomplished. Through research and planning, a regional implementation document has been produced that will provide national guidelines for change analysis. Although C-CAP has initiated interaction with and responded to other national mapping programs, no linkages that integrate the complementary aspects of the programs are apparent. Change detection and mapping require joint ventures with other agencies. COP should initiate joint requests for proposals to obtain nationalcoverage. The 1991 panel review recognized the product orientation of the program and recommended that operational considerations for C-CAP be investigated. It does not appear that COP has effectively investigated the long-term future of the operational components. Estuarine Habitat Studies Project—The Estuarine Habitat Studies project developed a well defined set of goals and objectives. The goals reflected both basic scientific research and analysis to understand restoration processes and methods to improve them, as well as means to relate these findings to methodologies that could be implemented by coastal managers. Project planners solicited the opinions of academic and agency scientists in formulating these goals and in establishing priorities for the program itself. Although NOAA staff were already involved in restoration activities, the program was not directed solely toward support of existing programs, but allowed flexibility for new approaches being developed in the academic community. The Estuarine Habitat Studies project, like most of the initial COP efforts, was planned to grow rapidly. As a result, it was anticipated that a large number of activities would be completed early in the project and that funding for coordination, modeling, and synthesis would be available concurrently or at least follow closely. However, funding was lower than expected, available funds had to be distributed over a longer period of time, and coordination activities were not funded immediately. Therefore, the program has fallen behind its initial schedule in terms of meeting the synthesis and modeling objectives. In FY 1993, a new solicitation was generated, resulting in over 140 preproposals. Funding limitations reduced the number of awards to approximately 10 new activities (four of which were holdovers from the previous solicitation).

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Findings Regarding EHP Projects Progress in EHP has been slowed by funding constraints. The primary focus of the program has been on the ecology of coastal habitats, primarily seagrass beds, and in evaluating coastal salt marsh restoration methodologies. Additional studies have been funded in the genetics of coastal plant species. These two areas of emphasis address fundamental missions of NOAA and represent basic research necessary to support the management of coastal resources and fisheries. With few exceptions, the panel believes that the research supported by this program reflects the best possible research given the funding and goals of the program. Because this program has used peer-review of proposals, the quality of the funded research is extremely high. The solicitations attracted a large number of proposals, inundating COP staff with many good ideas that merited funding. Because only the best 5-10% of the proposals are funded and the evaluation is based on a peer-review process, the projects and scientists funded are the best in the nation in the areas of interest. Conversely, the low success rate of proposals has been a problem. Although some effort was made to reduce the number of proposals through the pre-proposal process, too many full proposals were requested relative to the realities of funding. This created considerable frustration among proposers, too much work for the review panel, and diminished credibility of the program. The panel suggests that the pre-proposal stage be continued, and that a smaller percentage of full proposals be requested, reflecting realistic budget levels. EHP has provided a stimulus for interaction of funded researchers through various meetings and presentations. As a result, the principal investigators have been able to integrate their research efforts to some degree. The principal investigators funded by EHP have met several times, sharing results, and encouraging interaction. With some exceptions, this type of integration is critical to the success of the next stage of the program: synthesis and modeling. The panel encourages the integration of the research efforts to demonstrate that the various projects will have some management utility in the future. Several publications were in the process of being completed at the time EHP was initiated and the program was able to fund crucial elements so that early publication resulted. In addition, the scientific personnel funded by the program have very good track records in presentations and publication and the output to the scientific community has been excellent. During the last fiscal year, EHP solicited proposals to model and integrate findings from the initial research effort. While funding limitations reduced the number of potential studies, EHP has funded significant projects to study integration over watersheds, ecosystems, and habitats. These efforts should begin to link information

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) about basic ecology developed from the early phases of the program to support the management goals of coastal planners. The panel cautions EHP not to devote all of its resources to modeling and synthesis and abandon its efforts in process studies. There are real gaps in our understanding of some of the factors which regulate the distribution and loss of eelgrass beds which need to be filled. Another concern is that the seagrass model is being parameterized using data from a single region. This parameterization needs to be tested using data from other regions if the model is to be validated. The present model will also need to be linked to a spatially explicit water quality model in order to address issues of coastal zone management fully. Finally, the panel notes that the lack of a macroalgae category in C-CAP could prove to be an impediment in linking the sea grass model with data on the rate of habitat change, as is proposed. However, the panel recognizes that EHP is making a good start on synthesis and modeling in a difficult area. To continue to make progress the panel recommends that the modeling and synthesis effort receive regular review and advice from scientists with expertise in both process modeling and GIS. The project should explore closer links with C-CAP, which should become easier as CEH programs and projects are integrated. COP has funded several synthesis documents on various aspects of estuarine and marsh research. Given the limited funding, the panel recommends that COP not fund synthesis documents in the future unless they represent significant efforts to bring together new information. The panel continues to be concerned that emphasis on “horticultural” techniques to raise plant strains suitable for certain conditions (poor soils, high salinity, high productivity) may be counterproductive to restoring natural ecosystems. Genetic studies on coastal plant communities are certainly helpful in understanding genetic diversity, but attempts to isolate and create “super plants” may be not be appropriate. EHP has utilized outside academic experts in formulating the overall program and to assist in program planning. The program has an active TAC and is to be commended for enlisting a variety of people to review the project at various stages. Workshops, panel meetings, and dissemination of planning documents has been very useful in establishing the status of the program and setting the course for new modeling and synthesis efforts. Unfortunately, limited funding has prevented the TAC from meeting regularly. Future plans are based on the realization that this program may not grow substantially. EHP represents the ideal combination of academia and NOAA scientists striving to provide the best research possible. Peer review, competitive proposal review, and scientific interaction should be continued (and if possible emulated by

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) other programs). To deal with funding limitations, the program should examine some of the projects presently funded or planned to be funded to assure that they focus on restoration and coastal habitat ecology. Casting too broad a net will dilute the ability of the basic research to support the modeling and eventual management tool development envisioned when EHP was initiated. Gaps in knowledge of coastal habitats and restoration need to be filled. More attention needs to be focused in this area. The project has been responsive to previous recommendations of the panel, in terms of holding workshops for the program scientists, initiating the modeling effort, and supporting expanded geographic scope of the projects. Resource Information Delivery Resource Information Delivery (RID) is a cross-cutting program whose goal is to “refine our knowledge of users, define and react to users information needs, and provide access to and interpretation of existing scientific data and information” (NOAA, 1991). The panel believes that the overall goal of RID is essential for a mission-orientated agency such as NOAA and is an area where COP should play a strong role. In 1992, COP conducted a review of its progress in RID (COPR, 1992). The review team recommended that meaningful statements about the utility of the research should be incorporated into all projects and that an evaluation of how effective COP's previous projects have been in transferring information into the hands of decisionmakers should be conducted. COP was able to demonstrate that many COP projects have management applications.7 It was noted that C-CAP, in particular, interacted well with state agencies throughout the development of the program. The panel recommends the incorporation of RID into the other themes and programs, rather than maintaining it as a separate activity, to help COP better meet its objectives in this area. However, the panel found no planning for implementation of the RID goals and objectives within many of the programs. The panel is concerned that RID goals and objectives may actually be abandoned rather than incorporated into the themes. We believe there may be some merit in investigating the potential for RID to facilitate research within the themes by focusing on improved ways to disseminate information. 7   Selected Management Applications From Funded Projects, a document created for the panel by the National Coastal Ocean Program Office.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Coastal Ocean Management, Planning and Assessment System (COMPAS) —A major COP effort under the RID program has been the development of the Coastal Ocean Management, Planning, and Assessment System (COMPAS). COMPAS is an automated desktop information system that allows managers to obtain and manipulate data. The goal is to provide federal, state, and local decisionmakers with the information they need to manage resources in estuarine and coastal areas. COMPAS is being funded through a number of state and federal partnerships. The goal of COMPAS is to provide states with the many different types of information needed for decisionmaking in the coastal zone. Previous reviews (COMPAS Review Committee, 1992) have fully supported this goal in the broad sense but have questioned whether NOAA should be heavily involved in the development of the computer interface. COP has responded to this recommendation and is making COMPAS more generic and implementing it in the DOS (disk operating system) environment. COMPAS is being phased out of COP because it is an operational system, demonstrating its successful development. However, the panel was not presented evidence that NOS, now responsible for COMPAS, will continue the operational expansion of the program. Success of COP research and development is predicated on the operational application and implementation of the results in other parts of NOAA or outside NOAA. It is recommended that the operational success of COMPAS, as implemented in NOS, be reviewed after the COP effort is completed. Economic Valuation—A method for valuing non-market coastal resources, such as beaches, has been developed through RID. Panel members found the goal to be a useful and important endeavor. The project is now focusing on workshops to teach the technique to managers and on training material.8 The training material has been examined by economists outside NOAA and has received very favorable reviews.9 It appears that the program is now in an educational rather than a research mode and ready to move out of COP. We recommend winding this project down or moving it to the National Sea Grant College Program, which has capabilities in training and education (NRC, 1994). 8   Northwest Pacific Environmental Valuation Workshop, February 16-17, 1994, NOAA, Seattle, Washington. 9   March 17, 1994 letter from Hauke L. Kite-Powell (Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) to Stan Wilson (NOAA/NOS).

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) Mandated Programs Three programs were begun in response to specific directives from Congress. In FY 1990, money from the COP budget was earmarked by Congress for a program on the Urbanization and Southeastern Estuarine Systems (USES) in South Carolina. In FY 1993, additional funding was appropriated for COP to study an algal bloom problem in Maui, Hawaii. In FY 1994, Congress earmarked COP's budget to include a new program at the Institute for Environmental Renewal (IER), located in Pennsylvania. Maui algal blooms-It is too early to evaluate the science of this project, but COP 's planning and process for distributing the funds for this study should assure that the study is of high quality and addresses its objectives. The program contains a substantial effort in physical oceanography combined with an ecosystem-level evaluation of the problem. The panel was pleased to learn that much of the program funding was awarded through a competitive process. The proposed effort to use SeaWiFS ocean color data to monitor bloom behavior could provide insight useful in other areas, and helps integrate this work into the overall CEH theme. The Urbanization and Southeastern Estuarine Systems (USES) Program and the Institute for Environmental Renewal (IER) Program—The panel did not evaluate the science of either the Urbanization and Southeastern Estuarine Systems (USES) program or the Institute for Environmental Renewal (IER) program. The IER program is new and no information was available at the time of the review, even to COP management. The panel is concerned that the goals of this program may be totally unrelated to COP goals. The USES program is in its fourth year. The panel was disturbed about the lack of integration of this work with other programs within COP, and that the funds have not been awarded on a competitive basis. It is not clear how either of these two programs fit into the new broader CEH theme. These problems are not the responsibility of COP management, rather, they are due to the restrictions placed on COP oversight by the appropriation language and oversight by congressional staff. A strong and effective COP requires planning, integration, and some predictability in funding. Nearly 20% of the CEH budget is now taken up by congressional earmarks which cannot be strongly integrated within COP. Earmarks erode the ability of COP to accomplish its goals.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) References Calder, J. 1992. Memo entitled “Notes from the Nutrient Enhanced Productivity(NEP) Theme Team Meeting. ” Meeting held June 4-5, 1992, Silver Spring, Maryland. Coastal Ocean Policy Roundtable. 1992. Criteria and Procedures for Program and Project Evaluation. A report to the Coastal Ocean Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. October 1992. 16 pp. Coastal Ocean Program. 1992. Implementation Plan for the Toxic Chemical Contaminants Theme Area FY93. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce , Washington, D.C. 271 pp. Coastal Ocean Program. 1993. The Estuarine Habitat Program Final FY 1994 Implementation Plan. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce , Washington, D.C. 6 pp. COMPAS Review Committee. 1992. A Report from the COMPAS Review Committee. 15 pp. Dodson, J.E., E.A. Bright, R.L. Ferguson, D.W. Field, L.L. Wood, K.D. Haddad, H. Iredale III, J.R. Jensen, V.V. Klemas, R.J. Orth, and J.P. Thomas. 1993. NOAA CoastWatch Change Analysis Project—Guidance for Regional Implementation. Prepared for CoastWatch Change Analysis Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce , Washington, D.C. Fisher, D, J. Ceraso, T. Mathew, M. Oppenheimer. 1988. Polluted Coastal Waters: The Role of Acid Rain. Environmental Defense Fund, New York. Fisher, D.C. and M. Oppenheimer. 1991. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition and the Chesapeake Bay Estuary. Ambio 20:102-108. Hinga, K.R.A.A. Keller, and C.A. Oviatt. 1991. Atmospheric deposition and nitrogen inputs to coastal waters. Ambio 20:256-260. Jaworski, N.A., P.A. Groffman, A.A. Keller, and J.C. Prager. 1992. A watershed nitrogen and phosphorus balance: The upper Potomac River Basin. Estuaries 15:83-95.

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A Review of the Accomplishments and Plans of the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (1994) MACII, Mississippi-Atchafalaya Coastal Interaction Initiative. 1993. FY 1994 Implementation Plan. Prepared by NOAA-AOML, Ocean Chemistry Division, in cooperation with the Mississippi-Atchafalaya Coastal Interaction Initiative workshop steering committee. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1991. NOAA's Coastal Ocean Program: Science for Solutions, Prospectus for Fiscal Years 1993-1997. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1993a. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 1995-2005 Strategic Plan. July 1993. U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 1993b. FY 1994 Coastal Ocean Implementation Plan for the NOAA/OAR/ARL Program on Atmospheric Nutrient Input to Coastal Areas (ANICA), Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.23 pp. National Research Council. 1994. A Review of the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 85 pp. NECOP/MAR Review Panel. 1991. Report of the NECOP/MAR Review Panel following the Program Review at LUMCON on October 2-4, 1991. 3 pp. Patience, N. and V.V. Klemas, 1993. Wetland Functional Health Assessment Using Remote Sensing and other Techniques: Literature Search. NOAA Technical Memo NMFS-SEFSC-319. TCC TAC. 1993. Coastal Ocean Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . Meeting Report: August 26-27, 1993. Northwest Fisheries Center, Seattle, Washington. Dr. Donald G. Crosby, Committee Chairman.

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