TABLE 2-4 Coastal Ocean Processes: Areas Where Observatories Are Very Useful to Investigate a Particular Scientific Problem and Where They Are Useful

Observatory science is VERY USEFUL to investigate the following:

  • Sediment transport;

  • Coastal eutrophication; and

  • The impacts of global environmental change on the coastal environment.

Observatory science is USEFUL to investigate the following:

  • Fisheries science; and

  • The structure and function of coastal ecosystems.

To address the science where observatories are essential, development or improvement of the following sensors is needed:

  • Increased duration, speed, and long-term reliability for AUVs;

  • In situ nutrient and chemical sensors; and

  • In situ zooplankton sensors.

The coastal ocean is often typified by relatively short spatial scales and by strong anisotropy. For example, alongshore currents over the shelf tend to be typified by cross-shelf scales of 10 kms in magnitude, but can have considerably greater alongshore scales. Short spatial scales mean that a single-point measurement may only represent a very small volume of the ocean. Thus, there is a clear need to make sufficient spatial measurements to fully characterize the environment of interest. It is useful to envision a sustained three-dimensional network of measurements that will be able to describe, in detail, a given area and that will allow evaluation of advective transports.

The coastal ocean incorporates a variety of environments. For example, the shelf off the coast of Maine is distinctly different than that off Georgia, and estuarine environments are distinctly different than those of the continental shelf. It appears that the most useful approach to investigate the coastal zone using long time-series measurements is to pick a few representative settings, measure them in detail for a long enough time to gain confidence in having resolved the important variability (10 years would be a credible guess, but this would have to be evaluated as the dataset evolves), and then move the observing capability to another location.

One design for making long-term measurements in the coastal ocean would be to deploy arrays of moorings equipped to measure sediment properties and parameters, such as winds, waves, currents, temperature, salinity, nutrients, optical variables, acoustics, and bottom stress. This list would only

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