Enabling the Integrated Assessment of Large Marine Ecosystems: Informatics to the Forefront of Science-Based Decision Support

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Presented at the AGU Fall Meeting 2012


Integrated assessments of large marine ecosystems require the understanding of interactions between environmental, ecological, and socio-economic factors that affect production and utilization of marine natural resources. Assessing the functioning of complex coupled natural-human systems calls for collaboration between natural and social scientists across disciplinary and national boundaries. We are developing a platform to implement and sustain informatics solutions for these applications, providing interoperability among very diverse and heterogeneous data and information sources, as well as multi-disciplinary organizations and people. We have partnered with NOAA NMFS scientists to facilitate the deployment of an integrated ecosystem approach to management in the Northeast U.S. (NES) and California Current Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs). Our platform will facilitate the collaboration and knowledge sharing among NMFS natural and social scientists, promoting community participation in integrating data, models, and knowledge. Here, we present collaborative software tools developed to aid the production of the Ecosystem Status Report (ESR) for the NES LME. The ESR addresses the D-P-S portion of the DPSIR (Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) management framework: reporting data, indicators, and information products for climate drivers, physical and human (fisheries) pressures, and ecosystem state (primary and secondary production and higher trophic levels). We are developing our tools in open-source software, with the main tool based on a web application capable of providing the ability to work on multiple data types from a variety of sources, providing an effective way to share the source code used to generate data products and associated metadata as well as track workflow provenance to allow in the reproducibility of a data product. Our platform retrieves data, conducts standard analyses, reports data quality and other standardized metadata, provides iterative and interactive visualization, and enables the download of data plotted in the ESR. Data, indicators, and information products include time series, geographic maps, and uni-variate and multi-variate analyses. Also central to the success of this initiative is the commitment to accommodate and train scientists of multiple disciplines who will learn to interact effectively with this new integrated and interoperable ecosystem assessment capability. Traceability, repeatability, explanation, verification, and validation of data, indicators, and information products are important for cross-disciplinary understanding and sharing with managers, policymakers, and the public. We are also developing an ontology to support the implementation of the DPSIR framework. These new capabilities will serve as the essential foundation for the formal synthesis and quantitative analysis of information on relevant natural and socio-economic factors in relation to specified ecosystem management goals which can be applied in other LMEs.


DateCreated ByLink
December 9, 2012
Massimo Di Stefano Download

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